Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Bottas to take grid penalty for gearbox change after crash

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas is expected to pick up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change at the Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff confirmed Bottas damaged his gearbox when he crashed at turn two during qualifying.

“We were lucky because it was a big shunt,” said Wolff. “It looks like 27G. The chassis is OK, the gearbox not.” He added the car’s power unit appeared to be undamaged.

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Bottas qualified 10th and the penalty will move him back to 15th place.

Wolff explained his angry reaction to the crash which was seen on television during the session. “My reaction with the f-word was probably about the psychological effect it could have on Valtteri,”

Wolff is concerned the crash could lead Bottas to start to doubt himself.

Lewis [Hamilton] was fastest throughout the session and then in the last run before that he put sector two and especially sector three together, he had a purple sector three.

“But like in sector one, you know where you need to gain time, you carry enough speed into turn one, the grip is not there and you shunt it into the wall. This is a moment when you could start to question yourself. And this in race one is not good for the psychology of the drivers. We’re trying to give them all the support they can.”

Losing Bottas from the front end of the grid has other implications for the team, Wolff added. “Obviously it’s very early days for our team championship but starting P15 in Melbourne is not an easy starting position.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Bottas to take grid penalty for gearbox change after crash”

  1. All drivers crash sooner or later, Bottas was long overdue. He’ll bounce right back. But it is a shame it robbed us of more data on car perf. Was today Ham special or Mercedes 2018 car / engine special?

    1. @ivan-vinitskyy – I’d say both. Stellar machinery, in the hands of a driver who seems to be going from strength to strength.

      As someone who supports the Ferrari drivers, my heart sank after seeing Hamilton’s final Q3 run, so I can only imagine the effect it had on the other drivers competing at the pointy end of Q3.

  2. “My reaction with the f-word was probably about the psychological effect it could have on Valtteri”

    Oh, please, Toto. Just say you were angry that one of your cars crashed and no one would think lesser of you for it.

    1. I’ve learned that Toto is totally untrustworthy and not to believe a good percentage of what he says.
      Either he or Hamilton lied about party mode. Hamilton said he didn’t use it, Toto says he did.
      I think Toto was actually telling the truth in this case:)

  3. I seriously dislike the gearbox penalties for drivers who have crashed their cars. I know the rules say “changing the gearbox = grid penalty” (in about 6,000 more words, presumably), but when a driver has already destroyed his car and ruined his session, is it really necessary to add further punishment on top of that with a grid penalty? It feels needlessly draconian to me.

    Of course, since this is Formula One and they’ve turned shooting oneself in the foot into an art form, I expect that if the rule was changed into something akin to “gearbox changes shall not be penalised if the car has sustained extensive damage in an accident”, everyone would start doing their best Piquet at Singapore impressions to get free gearbox changes. I would like to think that the FIA would be smart enough not to allow that to happen and would come up with some way to prevent teams abusing the system since they have so many brilliant working to come up with ideas, but… well, it’s the FIA.

    1. *Brilliant minds working to come up with ideas. I really need to proofread my ramblings better.

    2. @docm
      I was thinking what you wrote in the second paragraph while I was reading the first, glad I’m not the only cynic here :).

  4. After the rear wing got ripped off and the car was sliding across the track, there appeared to be some liquid (or smoke) spraying out the what was left of the upright just above the exhaust outlet… any idea what that was?

    1. The radio transmission warning other drivers suggested hydraulic fluid, which makes sense if the gearbox was trashed.

    2. I thought it was engine coolant.

    3. It was for the DRS, according to de la Rosa in the spanish broadcast.

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