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F1: Charles Leclerc quickest in rain-soaked 3rd practice for German GP

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HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) — Charles Leclerc led a rain-soaked final practice session at the German Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

The 20-year-old from Monaco was about 0.4 seconds quicker than his Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson. Only nine cars set times on a drenched Hockenheim track, with most leading drivers preferring to wait for qualifying.

Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel went out briefly toward the end, with heavy rain bouncing off his Ferrari, and was fourth behind the Williams car of Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas did not set times. Neither did Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, the quickest drivers in first and second practice on a sunny Friday.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly span his Toro Rosso car in treacherous conditions.

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).