Valtteri Bottas may have taken home the victory today Formula One season opener in Austria, but the real news today is McLaren driver Lando Norris’s first goal on the podium, though he has to thank Lewis Hamilton for staying up for five seconds penalty that dragged him down to fourth place.
Hamilton was hit with the penalty after a 61-yard fumble with the Red Bull driver Alex Albon. Race officials concluded that Hamilton did not provide a full car width on the outside when Albon edged around him. Contact between the two ended Albon’s race early.
Albon was far from the only driver who retired early in exciting ways in this season opener. Red Bull’s The Max Verstappen race ended in lap 11, Alfa Kimi Raikkonen was looking to drop the right front wheel lap 53, and AlphaTauris Daniil Kvyat was looking for a back-puncture of wheels just two turns before the race. In total, nine drivers did not make it through this season opener.
Norris podium finish was not the first result of this race. Further down in the results, Sebastian Vettel made his career first tenth place ends today and puts a damper on otherwise surprisingly impressive results for Ferrari, thanks to to Charles LeClerc’s second place after a dash from the center of the pack to the front in the final stages of the race. LeClerc’s podium finish surprised most after a intermediate performance in the qualifier earlier this weekend.
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Today’s race was the first to incorporate new guidelines to ensure social distance and risk of viral transmission is minimized. Next week, Formula One returns to the Red Bull Ring for the second race of the season as the series tries to minimize travel and exposure to covid-19 for both drivers and support staff as it continues its season 2020. After this race it is clear that we will not only look for covid-19 related slip-ups. We have to keep our eye on Norris too, provided his car is not sold out under him, of course.