Photo: PIRTEK Team Murray

Vern Schuppan on board with Matt Brabham

Leave a comment

Vern Schuppan will become part of PIRTEK Team Murray’s inner sanctum for the 100th running of the Indy 500, the team announced this weekend.

The Formula 1 veteran finished third in the 1981 Indy 500, which one of three times he competed in the event. He will mentor third-generation Matt Brabham as that driver tries to become the top rookie of the 500.

“We have been friends with the Brabham family for many years through racing and I have followed Matt’s career with interest over the last two or three seasons,” said Schuppan.

If Brabham can become the Indy 500 rookie-of-the year, he will be only the second Australian to do so. Schuppan won those honors in his first attempt in 1976.

Based on his experience as a former rookie of the year, Schuppan added “the next couple of months will be a bit of a blur for him, but he is smart enough and has a genuine desire to be successful in American open-wheel racing.”

A resident of Adelaide, South Australia, Schuppan met with Brabham last month while the 22-year-old driver was competing in a Stadium Super Trucks support race for the Clipsal 500. Brabham finished third in that race.

Brabham was grateful for the mentoring. “I’m lapping up every piece of advice and I’m sure it will all come in handy at various stages during the Month of May,” he said.

Schuppan’s third-place finish in the 1981 Indy 500 marked the best result by an Australian in the May classic until Will Power finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya last year.

Notably, 1981 was the same year Matt’s father Geoff Brabham made his first of 10 Indy 500 starts.

Follow: @FantasyRace

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

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).