Lewis Hamilton to start eighth in Austria following F1 grid penalty

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Formula 1 championship contender Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix from eighth place on the grid after taking a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton arrived in Spielberg trailing Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 14 points at the top of the standings, having finished fifth two weeks ago in Baku when a faulty headrest cost him a likely victory.

Hamilton’s hopes of a second straight Austrian Grand Prix victory were dealt a blow on Friday evening when the FIA technical delegate revealed Mercedes had changed the gearbox on his car before it had completed its minimum cycle.

The penalty was formally confirmed by the stewards on Saturday ahead of qualifying, where Hamilton took third place on the grid behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel.

As a result, Hamilton will drop to P8 on the final grid for the race, but is set to start on super-soft tires that will last longer than the rest of the top 10’s tires, all of whom will take to the grid on ultra-softs.

“Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job and has been driving well all weekend,” Hamilton said.

“Obviously Sebastian is very quick this weekend so I’m happy to be third. I would loved to have improved my lap, but just wasn’t to be.

“I’ll do the best job I can [in the race]. I obviously want to try and get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri so I’ll do the best job I can to get further up.

“I have the super-soft tomorrow but I think it’s generally a slower tire than they are on but can maybe go longer. We will see.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.