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F1: Recapping the past week’s news

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Romain Grosjean DQ’ed from Italian Grand, but Haas F1 to File an Appeal

Although he finished sixth in last Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean was subsequently disqualified when it was found that the floor of his Haas F1 VF-18 did not meet the proper specs, outlined in article 3.7.1 d of the Technical Regulations.

The discovery was unearthed following a protest from Renault, which sits fourth in the constructor’s championship, just ahead of Haas.

Per Formula 1.com, the FIA issued a declaration clarifying the rule and requiring teams to be compliant with it by the Italian Grand Prix. Haas requested flexibility, citing the August break – teams are required to completely shut down for two weeks – and limited time as hampering their ability to have adjustments made on their cars by the time of the Italian Grand Prix.

However, while Haas did not receive a formal response, the stewards issued a statement following the race weekend, as outlined in the aforementioned Formula1.com story: “While the Stewards are also sympathetic to the difficulties of producing these parts, the Stewards noted that at least one other competitor was able to comply in the time provided.”

“Further, it was made clear to the competitor from the outset that the FIA Technical Department did not consider their car to be in compliance, and further that they left themselves open to the circumstances they now find. It was therefore the obligation of the competitor to be in compliance, which they did not do.”

Haas is planning to appeal the ruling.

Said Team Principal Guenther Steiner, “We do not agree with the Stewards’ decision to penalize our race team and we feel strongly that our sixth-place finish in the Italian Grand Prix should stand. We are appealing the Stewards’ decision.”

Hamilton Endorses Ocon

SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 25: Pole position qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP congratulates third place qualifier Esteban Ocon of France and Force India in parc ferme during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 25, 2018 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images)

The new-look Racing Point Force India outfit was brought out of administration by a group of investors headed by Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance Stroll.

Consequently, a hot rumor is that Lance Stroll could move to Force India as soon as this year. With Sergio Perez bringing sponsorship of his own into the team, Stroll’s potential move would come at the expense of Esteban Ocon, a Mercedes junior driver who has been with Force India since 2017.

As a result, Ocon’s F1 prospects are unknown at this point, and his future is somewhat in doubt.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE – JUNE 23: Esteban Ocon of France and Force India smiles during the F1 Festival Marseille 2018 on June 23, 2018 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for F1)

Four-time champion Lewis Hamilton jumped to Ocon’s defense recently, saying that he rates Ocon very highly.

“I’ve always been a supporter of Esteban. I think how he conducts himself and how he performs on track is exceptional,” Hamilton said in a story posted on Formula1.com.

Hamilton also added that Ocon deserves a spot on the F1 grid, and a strong spot at that.

“I’ve not read of who’s signed where and what seats are available, but he needs to be in a great car because he’s one of the top drivers here, so I hope that opportunity is there for him,” he asserted.

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Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.