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F1: Lewis Hamilton wins Styrian GP as Ferrari endures another debacle

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton won the Styrian Grand Prix from the pole position Sunday for his 85th career victory, moving within six of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record.

Most of Schumacher’s wins were during a dominant spell with Ferrari, but his old team is struggling badly during the Lewis Hamilton Formula One era.

For the second time in the past four races, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel crashed into each other and retired. The incident happened on the third turn of the first lap as Leclerc made an aggressive entry and bounced off the curb with his rear tires shearing off the rear wing of Vettel’s car.

Hamilton’s record-extending 89th career pole on a rain-drenched track Saturday was one of his best in extreme conditions, but during the race he was hardly challenged as he finished a sizeable 13.7 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and 33.7 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Bottas won last weekend’s season-opening Austrian GP on the same Red Bull Ring track in Spielberg at the foot of the Styrian mountains – hence the name change.

Like last Sunday, drivers again wore black T-shirts with “End Racism,” and most took the knee a few moments before the national anthem.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.