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F1: Valtteri Bottas dominates season-opening Australian Grand Prix

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Though it may have been the Lewis Hamilton Show throughout Formula One practice and qualifying this weekend, it was Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who took the top spot on the podium after the Australian Grand Prix season opener Sunday.

The Mercedes driver started second and got off a great start, immediately racing to the inside of pole-sitter Hamilton on the run to the first corner to seize the lead of the race. He never looked back for the remainder of the race as his teammate, nor Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, could keep up.

“I don’t know what just happened,” Bottas said. “I don’t know what to say. It was definitely my best race ever. It felt so good and the car was so good”.

The win was the fourth of Bottas’ career and first since his victory in the season-finale Abu Dhabi GP in 2017.

Hamilton finished second in the Australian Grand Prix for the fourth consecutive season, holding off Max Verstappen, who took third and gave Honda its first podium since the 2008 British GP.

“I had to overtake [Vettel] to get the podium, which isn’t easy around here,” Verstappen said. “To start the season on the podium challenging Mercedes is very good for us”.

Rounding out the top five were Vettel in fourth, and teammate Charles Leclerc in fifth. Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen finished sixth, Nico Hulkenberg placed seventh in his Renault, and Kimi Raikkonen was eighth in his first GP driving for Alfa Romeo.

Lando Norris, 19, had a respectable finish of 12th in his first Grand Prix for McLaren.

Robert Kubica was the final driver to finish the race in 17th, three laps down. The Williams driver was making his first start since the 2010 season, having missed the last eight seasons because of a serious hand injury sustained in a rallying crash in 2011.

Of the three drivers to retire, the most notable was Perth, Australia, native Daniel Riccardo. The Aussie went into the grass off the start, losing his front wing. He pitted early to replace it but eventually retired on Lap 31 as a precaution.

Full results are below. The next race the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 31.

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

IMSA
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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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