Engine penalty will see Bottas start GP from back of grid


Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday's Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after the team opted to change his engine ahead of Sprint qualifying.

The Finn takes on a new ICE (internal combustion engine), turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K, all of which take him over the statutory allowance.

"Unfortunately, we noticed an issue with Valtteri's power unit towards the end of the morning session," explained Andrew Shovlin, "and we didn't have endless time to investigate so we decided to take a new power unit whilst there was still time to change it.

"The crew did a great job making sure the car was back together for qualifying. That's going to mean Valtteri starts from the back on Sunday but it's great that we've got both cars on the front row for tomorrow."

However, team boss, Toto Wolff hinted that the move could be a strategic decision in view of the fact that with an anticipated 8 races remaining, the Finn, and teammate Lewis Hamilton will probably require new power units, and thereby penalties, as will the Red Bull duo.

The penalty only applies on Sunday, therefore the Finn will start the Sprint from pole.

"We had a little bit of a worry because we wouldn't have taken it otherwise," said Wolff of the grid penalty. "And in the sprint races format, it's quite good because you have to take the penalty only for Sunday."

Consequently, with Perez starting from ninth, Bottas will be able to aid his Mercedes teammate as he bids to secure pole for Sunday's Grand Prix.

It is difficult, generally, when you have to call team orders because all of us as racers, we don't want to see that.

"Everybody here should be aware he's there on merit," he continued. "But, in this case, Valtteri is going all the way to the back on Sunday, so we need to see how the start pans out.

"There's not too much to discuss ," he added. "Just be careful in the first corner, and then we'll see where they are."

Asked about the prospect of Hamilton incurring a penalty, the Austrian admitted that he was concerned at the impact a DNF would have if the team attempted to complete the season only using its existing pool of engines.

"We believe that between P1 and P2, with the fastest lap, that if you have one DNF it needs the other guy four races to catch up. And that's brutal. So you can afford to finish four times in second. Therefore, you just need to really play it safe while not giving up performance."

"Now I just focus first on tomorrow and try to deal with it on Sunday," said Bottas, "and, having a look at the pace we have here, I'm sure we can get some strong points on Sunday.

"I'm sure there's something we can do hopefully differently starting from the back," he added, "and yes, it should be a nice battle.

"For now, focus for tomorrow's Sprint race, of course starting from the front, expecting to get maximum points tomorrow and then get do the best job we can on Sunday."

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Published: 11/09/2021
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