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Rosberg, Vettel take grid penalties for gearbox changes

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Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel will both drop five places on the grid for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix after taking penalties for changing a gearbox on their cars.

Vettel was forced to take a new gearbox on Friday after FP2, while Rosberg’s car was damaged in a crash in the final practice session on Saturday ahead of qualifying.

The FIA confirmed in separate statements that both drivers would be dropping five places as a result of the changes.

Rosberg qualified second in Saturday’s session, half a second shy of teammate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets. As a result, he will fall back to P7 for the start of the race on Sunday.

Vettel finished fourth, with Nico Hulkenberg slotting into third, meaning he falls to ninth on the grid.

Their grid drops bump McLaren’s Jenson Button up into third place, marking the best qualifying result for the team in qualifying since joining forces with Honda at the start of 2015.

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).