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Hamilton keen to forget Baku, add Austria to his win list

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There aren’t many tracks on the current¬†Formula 1 calendar where Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won, but the Red Bull Ring in Austria is one of them.

Of the 21 tracks on this year’s schedule, it’s only at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, streets of Baku (just completed and of course only had its first race), the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Hamilton hasn’t won in his career.

If he can get through a weekend without engine or mechanical gremlins, as has frequently ailed him this season, he should be well suited to tick Austria off his list.

“Baku started out great but, clearly, it just wasn’t meant to be that weekend,” he admitted in the team’s pre-race release. “It’s a shame I wasn’t really in the race – but there’s no point talking about ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. It’s one to put behind me, take the positives in terms points on the board and move on.

“We’ve got an old school track there in Spielberg. It’s fast, with a good flow to it. It’s tough to overtake but there are places you can try something different so that’s a good challenge. It’s definitely a big advantage starting up front there, though, so I need to get back on it in qualifying and do a better job than last time out.

“Austria is a beautiful country and I always enjoy my time there, so it would be great to get a win there and tick it off the list. That’s the aim, as always, so let’s see how it goes.”

Hamilton has finished second to Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg in each of the last two Austrian Grands Prix, his only two starts at the circuit.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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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).