Verstappen impresses again to finish fourth in Austin

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Max Verstappen’s sensational rookie season in Formula 1 continued in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as he matched his best race result, finishing fourth at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Verstappen, 18, made his F1 debut at the beginning of the year after just one year in single seater racing, but has proven his ability with a series of impressive performances in 2015 that show an ability beyond his years.

The Dutchman qualified well at COTA on Sunday morning before spending his race battling well up the order, pitting under the first safety car to give himself fresh tires and track position.

Although he was unable to hold off the charging Sebastian Vettel and claim his maiden podium finish, Verstappen crossed the line in fourth place to match his best result from the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

“It was a bit of a crazy race,” Verstappen told NBCSN after the race. “The start, [I] didn’t have the best getaway. Then I just dived up the inside and I think I took three guys or something, was very good.

“he pace wasn’t too bad. Struggled the first lap but then we could keep up with the Ferraris, but was stuck behind the Force India because the straight line speed they had was quite impressive.

“From there on I had a lot of enjoyable battles, especially with Raikkonen. I enjoyed that one a lot, maybe he didn’t but surely I did. From there I didn’t make any mistakes. We did right call to switch to slick tires. The team did a very good strategy.

“It was very difficult because you didn’t want to go too early. Then you lose a lot of time. Wait and see when someone else goes. Someone else was, it was not too bad, and I said now we go.”

Verstappen admitted that he did not fight with Vettel for third at the end due to his fading tires, but was delighted with another fourth place finish.

“For sure, I was not fighting Sebastian,” he said. “I was just trying to save the tires. It was quite a risky move to go with the softs for so long. But we managed it.

“The points we’ve scored is quite impressive for the moment. I’m very happy with that and hopefully score some more in upcoming races.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).