Photo courtesy Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Former SPM GM Piers Phillips joins Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan as first president

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Former Schmidt Peterson Motorsports general manager Piers Phillips was named Thursday as the first-ever president of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

After three years, Phillips stepped down from his post with SPM on October 24. The British native has enjoyed a long and successful career of more than 25 years in several forms of motorsports, particularly open-wheel and sports car racing.

“To be involved at this level with not only the Indy car program, but also the sports car program and eTROPHY was a very easy decision for me and one that I know I will thoroughly enjoy,” Phillips said in a RLL media release.

In his new role, Phillips will oversee RLL’s IndyCar Series operation, as well as its programs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series and the new Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series.

“(Co-owners Michael Lanigan, David Letterman) and I are pleased that Piers is joining the team as its first-ever president,” team co-owner Bobby Rahal said in a statement. “His past successes speak volumes of his ability in all facets of racing and I look forward to working closely with Piers to take the team to the next level.”

Phillips’ hiring is the latest in a series of upward moves by RLL:

* For the first time since 2013, it expanded to two full-time cars in the IndyCar Series in 2018.

* Its partnership with BMW led to two wins, five podium finishes and three poles in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship series.

* On December 15, RLL will debut its two-car program in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series at the Ad Diriyah E Prix.

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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).