Toyota Gazoo Racing

Lopez ruled out of Spa WEC race through injury after Silverstone crash

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SPA, Belgium – Jose Maria Lopez will miss this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps after failing a pre-race medical check.

Lopez crashed heavily in damp conditions during the season-opener at Silverstone two weeks ago, resulting in a visit to the local hospital in Northampton, England before being released the same day.

The Argentine was required to undergo a medical check ahead of this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa before being given permission to race, leading to a decision to withdraw from the round.

“Toyota Gazoo Racing regrets to announce that José María López will not compete in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC),” a statement from the team reads.

“José María suffered minor damage to two vertebrae during an accident at Silverstone on 16 April. Both team and driver hoped that a period of rest would complete the natural healing process before this week’s event.

“However, after consultation with FIA Medical Delegate Dr. Jacques Tropenat and the team’s own doctor, it has been decided José María should not compete at Spa in order to ensure he returns fully fit at Le Mans.

“José María will return to the TS050 Hybrid cockpit for a test session towards the end of the month prior to participating in the official Le Mans test on 4 June.”

“I’m extremely disappointed to miss this weekend’s race as I was really looking forward to driving the TS050 Hybrid at Spa,” Lopez said.

“I feel basically fine but we all agree that we should take no chances. The priority is to be absolutely fit for Le Mans.

“Probably I could race if we were at a different track but a driver’s body experiences extreme forces through Eau Rouge so, after discussions with the FIA Medical Delegate and our team doctor, we decided I should not drive this weekend.”

With Lopez missing the race, the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid will be shared by Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi at Spa this weekend.

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).