Valtteri Bottas has been handed a three-place grid penalty for this weekend’s
Formula One Styrian Grand Prix after his pitlane spin in second practice on Friday.
Determining the incident to be ‘dangerous driving in the pit lane’,
stewards said Bottas had told them he had tried something different to normal –
pulling away from the Mercedes pit area in second gear – having lost time on exiting
the box in the past.
“When BOT pulled away from his designated pit stop position, he lost control of
the car when he turned into the fast lane,” read a stewards’ statement.
“He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits.
“During the hearing BOT stated that in the past they have been losing time in the pit
departure. So they tried something new, which was to leave in second gear.
As a result, the wheel spin was much higher and the result unexpected.
Therefore he didn’t manage to control the car properly into the fast lane. This has to
be considered as potentially dangerous driving, especially as personnel were around
in the pit lane.”
The penalty means Bottas can start Sunday’s race no higher than fourth on the grid,
with the demotion representing a blow to Mercedes for the latest instalment of their
closely-fought title battle with Red Bull this weekend.
In addition to the grid demotion, Bottas also had two penalty points added to his
Speaking immediately after the session before heading to the stewards,
Bottas said: “We tried something different getting out from the box and there were
some variables to what we normally do with the wheelspin, so that’s why I spun.
“I would be surprised [if the stewards took action]. It’s a normal mistake, it happens.
I’m sure they want to understand what happened.”