Bottas: Three-place grid drop for 'dangerous' pit lane mishap


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will have to overcome a three place grid drop for Sunday’s Styrian Grand prix after being penalised by the FIA race stewards for dangerous driving

Bottas had been summoned to the stewards’ office after an incident that took place in Friday afternoon’s practice session at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

After 40 minutes, Bottas had come into the pit lane to change his worn set of sort tyres for a new set of the hard compound. As is common in practice sessions, he lit up the tyres as he left his pit box in order to lay down some rubber.

But in this case the Mercedes W12 lost grip at the back end and swapped ends, sliding sideways into the McLaren area just ahead. Fortunately no mechanics or engineers were working outside the garage at the time.

F1 rules forbid reversing on pit lane, so Bottas had to be helped to complete a multi-point turn by some of the McLaren mechanics.

However the incident was described as “absolutely ridiculous” by McLaren team manager Paul James, with team principal pointing out that it was “obviously a scary moment.”

The stewards reviewed the incident using available video and telemetry data and spoke to the driver and a representative of the Merceded team before handing down their verdict.

“When he pulled away from his designated pit stop position he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane,” a statement from the FIA said.

“He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits,” it continued.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 spun in the second practice session exiting his pit box. 25.06.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Steiermark Grand Prix, Spielberg

“During the hearing, [Bottas] 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 stewards handed the Finn a three-place grid drop for Sunday’s race, as well two penalty points on his F1 superlicence.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 spun in the second practice session exiting his pit box. 25.06.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Steiermark Grand Prix, Spielberg

The outcome would likely have come as a surprise to the driver, who didn’t think it had been a significant incident and hadn’t expected any sanction.

“I would be surprised if there is,” he said at the time. “It’s a normal mistake, it happens, but yes, I’m sure they’ll understand what happened.”

Bottas has previously been on pole on three occasions at the Red Bull Ring in 2017, 2018 and 2020 but will now start now higher than fourth place on the second for of the grid for this year’s event.

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