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Verstappen banks runner-up finish in Red Bull Racing’s home race

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Spanish Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen has secured the second podium finish of his F1 career, and first off the top step of the podium with a runner-up finish in today’s Austrian Grand Prix.

It’s the best result yet for Red Bull Racing at its home track, the Red Bull Ring, because the last two years only saw two lower end points results. Daniel Ricciardo came eighth in 2014 and 10th last year; today the likable Australian made it two Red Bull TAG Heuers in the points with fifth place.

The 18-year-old Dutchman’s result was, to a degree, overshadowed by the drama at the front of the field with Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton clashing on the final lap of the race, with Rosberg later receiving a time penalty and penalty points that did not change the result.

Anyway, Verstappen started in eighth and made it forward methodically over the course of the race. He, like others, ran a longer stint on Pirelli’s soft tires to finish and then defended well in the final few laps ahead of Kimi Raikkonen – as he had in Spain.

“Yeah, it was a great start and also a good first lap and straight away I could feel the pace was there in the car,” Verstappen said during the post-race press conference. “So I just moved up to the front and once I cleared some guys I just started to go into my own rhythm.

“The Mercedes cars at the moment are still a bit too quick, but yeah, I think everything was going quite well. I did a long stint on the soft tire and especially the last 10 laps, including with some traffic made it very hard. I could see Kimi behind me, he was catching up a lot.

“At the end to come home in second after what happened on the last lap is of course a bonus. Also, to finish here second, as a Red Bull driver at the Red Bull Ring, is a great feeling.”

Verstappen explained how the Barcelona defense helped him here to be able to do the same thing on the team’s home soil.

“As soon as I saw him in the mirrors I was thinking about Barcelona,” he said. “Only the problem was he was catching quite a lot now compared to Barcelona! He was there all the time and catching up a lot. I just tried to make no mistakes and at the end we kept him behind which of course is what we wanted. It was great for myself to be on the limit all the time until the end of the race.”

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).