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Buemi tops opening day of collective Formula E testing

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Defending FIA Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi sent out an early warning shot to his title rivals by comfortably topping the opening day of collective testing at Donington Park.

Teams were afforded six hours of running on Tuesday following the conclusion of private testing, allowing them to gauge the pace of their rivals and run through any processes and procedures ahead of the new season.

Jerome d’Ambrosio led the morning session for Dragon, but times tumbled in the afternoon as 10 drivers went quicker than the fastest time from this point in testing last year.

Sam Bird led for DS Virgin Racing with 30 minutes to go, only for season two title rivals Buemi and Lucas di Grassi to head out for a final run.

Di Grassi edged out Bird to take P1 away, but spent mere moments at the helm of the timesheets as Buemi went eight-tenths of a second faster to take top spot.

“Today was a very good day. It’s only the first day of testing so we can’t draw a lot of conclusions, but it’s clear it’s better to be ahead than behind!” Buemi said.

“We checked the developments we have made to the car over last year and our time – practically a new lap record – shows we are quicker than last year. It’s a good start so we will see how it continues tomorrow.”

The day was filled with brief stoppages, but most of the teams were able to conduct some significant running. After a nightmare in 2015, Andretti had few problems as Antonio Felix da Costa enjoyed his first public run for the team.

Tuesday also marked the first public run for the new Jaguar Formula E team, which is making its first foray into top-line international motorsport since the conclusion of its ill-fated Formula 1 project that ended in 2004.

Jaguar is yet to make a final call on its line-up for the coming season, with running being shared by Alex Lynn and Adam Carroll on Tuesday. Mitch Evans and Harry Tincknell are set for outings later this week alongside Carroll.

Nick Heidfeld enjoyed a late charge for Mahindra to finish second ahead of di Grassi and Bird, with d’Ambrosio’s late lap lifting him to P5. Lynn was the leading Jaguar driver in sixth, 1.2 seconds off Buemi, while recent Indy Lights driver Felix Rosenqvist was P7 in his first public Formula E test.

Daniel Abt finished eighth ahead of Carroll and Jose Maria Lopez, the latter making his public debut for DS Virgin Racing. Maro Engel also made his first appearance for Venturi, finishing at the foot of the timesheets.

Testing continues at Donington Park on Wednesday with another six hours of running.

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).