WEC: Turner signs new deal with Aston Martin Racing

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Two-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner will remain with Aston Martin Racing for the foreseeable future after signing a new three-year deal with the British marque.

Turner first raced for Aston Martin back in 2005, finishing third in class on debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

GT1 class victories followed in 2007 and 2008, and the Briton has since established himself as one of the leading GT racers in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“Within my time at Aston Martin Racing we have had so many highs,” Turner said. “Like with any team, we have had our low points too but we always come out fighting – right now we are in a very strong place.

“We have an exciting few years ahead of us in GT racing. The discipline is going from strength-to-strength and I’m looking forward to working with the team to develop its new cars.”

Aston Martin Racing team principal John Gaw was delighted to confirm Turner’s contract extension, believing that the 41-year-old acts as a perfect leader for the marque’s GT operation.

“We’ve signed a three-year deal but we certainly see Darren’s future with Aston Martin Racing as ongoing,” Gaw said.

“He has been with us since the company was founded and is therefore not only a very strong and reliable driver but also has an understanding of the team and insight into the cars better than anyone else ever could.

“His professional, mature and positive attitude is invaluable within our team as we look to bring in and develop young talent.”

Besides his racing commitments, Turner will also act as an ambassador for Aston Martin and help to develop its road cars.

“Although I’ve always had a strong relationship with the road car arm of the business and have been involved in many projects, this is the first time that we have come to a formal agreement and signed a contract,” Turner explained.

“This will see me get more involved with road car projects and will draw an even closer link between these and our race car programmes.”

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.