FIA Formula E

Di Grassi takes Berlin Formula E pole, Buemi 14th for Saturday race

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BERLIN, Germany – Lucas di Grassi swept to his second pole position of the 2016/17 FIA Formula E season on Saturday in Berlin, edging out Jose Maria Lopez by one-thousandth of a second at the front of the pack.

Fighting back from a disastrous Paris ePrix that saw his deficit at the top of the drivers’ championship swell to 43 points, di Grassi was able to squeeze through to final stage of qualifying before turning in a best lap of 1:08.312 to score his second pole of the season for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport.

Lopez was left to settle for an agonizing second place, while Felix Rosenqvist – the original leader from the first heats – was third-fastest, less than a tenth off pole. Mahindra Racing teammate Nick Heidfeld was fourth, while Sam Bird rounded out the top five after a scruffy lap in Super Pole.

While di Grassi was able to secure pole, title rival Sebastien Buemi endured his worst qualifying in almost 18 months after a sloppy lap that left him 14th for the start in Berlin.

Jean-Eric Vergne was left disappointed after narrowly missing out on a place in the Super Pole shootout, finishing sixth ahead of Oliver Turvey and Daniel Abt. Following Buemi’s slow lap, Nicolas Prost was left to lead Renault e.dams’ charge in ninth, while Jerome d’Ambrosio rounded out the top 10 for Dragon.

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).