Bottas to start Russian GP from the back with Verstappen and Leclerc after Mercedes PU change
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will take his second grid penalty for power unit changes in as many races, with the Finn set to start the Russian Grand Prix from P16.
Bottas qualified P7 at the Sochi Autodrom – a track where he’d never previously qualified outside of the top four – on Saturday afternoon as Lewis Hamilton took P4 on the grid, behind shock pole-sitter Lando Norris, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Williams’ George Russell.
But Mercedes then took the decision to change Bottas’ power unit, with the Finn now set to start the Russian Grand Prix from 16th on the grid.
A spokesperson from Mercedes confirmed that the decision to switch up Bottas’ power unit – which was also changed for the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, forcing Bottas to start from the back of the grid in Monza – was a tactical one, with Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen also starting at the back after taking on a fourth Honda power unit.
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi will also receive a penalty, after changing his gearbox. However, with the engine penalties for other drivers around him, Giovinazzi’s five-place drop means he’ll slip from P15 to P17 – having originally qualified P18 on Saturday.