Bottas handed three-place grid drop and penalty points for ‘dangerous driving’ in pit lane spin
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has been handed a three-place grid drop for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix, after an unusual incident that saw him spin his car coming out of his pit box in Free Practice 2.
Bottas had just bolted on a set of hard tyres during FP2 when he accelerated hard away from his pit box – too hard in fact, with Bottas losing control of his car and slewing across the pit lane, coming to a stop near McLaren personnel, who helped get the Finnish driver pointing the right way again.
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McLaren were later heard complaining to FIA Race Director Michael Masi over radio that the spin had been “absolutely ridiculous – he could have taken our guys out” – and having been summoned to the stewards, Bottas was subsequently handed a three-place grid drop for the Styrian Grand Prix, along with two penalty points on his licence.
“When [Bottas] pulled away from his designated pit stop position,” ran the stewards’ verdict, “he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane. He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits.
“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.”
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The verdict will likely have come as a shock to Bottas who, when asked about the incident at the end of Free Practice 2 – which saw him finish down in P12 – told the media: “I would be surprised if there is [any penalty]. It’s a normal mistake, it happens, but yes, I’m sure they’ll understand what happened.
“I spun. We tried something different getting out from the box and yes, there were some variables to what we normally do with the wheelspin and that’s why I spun.”