Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

“Harsh” grid penalty provoked by rival teams – Bottas

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas said his three-place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix was provoked by complaints from his team’s rivals.

The Mercedes driver was penalised after spinning in the pit lane during second practice. Bottas said he did not expect the stewards to punish him for the error.

“My personal view is it’s quite harsh,” he said. “I never imagined after that there would be a penalty.

“But of course, other teams, when they see the opportunity, they complain that it’s dangerous, et cetera, so that we would get penalised. That’s how it goes, everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport.”

The stewards ruled Bottas caused a “potentially dangerous” situation when he lost control of his W12 while accelerating out of his pit box. “For sure it can be dangerous situation if there’s many people in the pit lane,” Bottas admitted.

Bottas told the stewards the team had been experimenting with pulling away from the pit box in second gear in order to improve the speed of their exits. “It definitely caught me out,” he said. “I never imagined that would happen on the pit lane.

“But we decided to try something different, launch with the second gear because sometimes with the high gear, you have a lot of revs and maybe you can manage the wheelspin or the initial part is not so aggressive. But then once I got the wheelspin, it really caught me out.

“I don’t know, perhaps the line on the pit lane was still slightly damp from the drizzle. I just couldn’t hold it, obviously. Quite a different behaviour for the second gear to the first gear.”

Bottas’ team mate Lewis Hamilton confirmed he had not tried the same technique.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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31 comments on ““Harsh” grid penalty provoked by rival teams – Bottas”

  1. they complain that it’s dangerous, et cetera

    It was Valtteri. You span in the pit lane.
    When we’re talking about 0.2s making a difference to safety at pit stops, because “some team complained”, then you suck it up and accept it mate.

  2. If Bottas means the alarmed McLaren team manager was responsible for the FIA noticing the incident then he is right. But McLaren didn’t impose the penalty the FIA did and other teams are in accord with that.

    On a broader level Bottas seems disillusioned with the cut throat rivalry in the sport and that will not aid his performance nor his longevity in the seat of any F1 car.

  3. Comparing to many more dangerous episodes that went unpunished this really is too harsh penalty.
    F1 itself causes a “potentially dangerous” situation when 20 cars are driven at more than 300 km/h and there are people who are watching it. Should F1 also get a penalty for being “potentially dangerous”?
    I mean, even eating is “potentially dangerous” as you can accidentally start choking. :)

    1. @bulgarian And of course nothing you have said has anything to do with the fact that they try to go about a race weekend as safely as possible, and ensure drivers are in control of their cars, particularly when there has to be people near the cars. When there is an incident and marshals have to be on the track side of the barriers the drivers are completely responsible to heed flags and keep control of their cars. Why shouldn’t VB have been responsible for the same reason. There is a reason they years ago went to pit lane speed limits where before they hadn’t.

  4. <> it WAS dangerous … guy did not control an F1 racing car … “Well, yeah, but … “

  5. The Fittipaldi and Grosjean spins in the pits were under race conditions and were errors in the normal course of the weekend. They were not dangerous experiments in the midst of team personnel in adjacent garages. An experiment by an experienced driver spinning his wheels over painted damp surfaces which should have been seen as it was: risky.

  6. Bottas’ attitude these days really suggests that he will not be a Mercedes driver next year. Just going by some of his more recent comments, and the relationship between him and the team. He’s clearly very frustrated.

  7. Is he saying the stewards would have ignored it if nobody said anything?

    And of course I’m sure VB is well aware of the things TW has brought up about RBR when he is talking about ‘everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport.’

  8. Hard for other teams not to provoke the stewards when your team is behind almost every other protest the moment a team is equal or faster than them..

    1. Ahah, that’s so true!

  9. I would have thought (having never driven an F1, obviously) that you’d be less likely to spin starting in second gear? Or is that just me?

    And yes it’s a penalty, Mansell was black flagged for reversing in the pitlane in an era when there was no speed limit in the pitlane! I don’t remember if Jerome D’Ambrosio got penalised for doing it in Hungary, at least his was under race and interchangeable conditions.

    1. @bernasaurus D’Ambrosio didn’t get penalized for his spin in the 2011 Hungarian GP.

    2. @bernasaurus I’ve been thinking the same all weekend. I remember there being a thing a few years back about some drivers (Verstappen was one) were launching from the grid during wet races in 2nd gear to avoid wheel spin, so frankly I’ve no idea here!

    3. Once the wheels break free in 2nd they really spin up quickly. It works great until it doesn’t and then the wheels can spin a whole lot faster in 2nd.

  10. Leaving the pit box, spinning and narrowly missing the mechanics in the neighbouring pit box is very deserving of a penalty, regardless of driver or team.

  11. I can understand why he is a little salty. Since Monaco he has been the butt of jokes and rumors of replacement. He’s had his heir apparent clumsily ram into him in Imola yet retain his sterling brand. Here he outqualifies Hamilton and has to start behind because the team wanted to experiment in the pit lane. I would be vex too.

    1. @dmw ‘clumsily ram into him…’ Come off it.

      And he didn’t ’start behind because the team wanted to experiment in the pit lane.’ He is starting behind because he lost control of his car during an experiment that was to benefit him, and presumably LH if it had worked.

      But sure, he has lots of reasons to be salty. Amongst the main ones he knows he’s had four seasons to come out swinging with the WCC car, and hasn’t, and this 5th season has been no different for him…yet again out of the WDC fight with what might still prove to be the WCC car or at least a very close second. If he feels he’s squandered his time and he may have run out of it, of having such a good car, that would be understandable. Surely he must know he has opened the door for GR…the driver in the Williams he shouldn’t have even been tangling with at Imola.

  12. Bottas provides no evidence that the stewards didn’t immediately flag this on their own. Such a direct attack on the integrity of the FIA, race director and stewards warrants an investigation.

    Anyway, as far as we were able to see, the other teams – in this case McLaren – actually helped him out and saved him from further problems. Bottas’ frustrations are best put into better driving, rather than making up conspiracy theories. As it stands, he has half of Hamilton’s points, is down in 5th in the driver’s championship despite having the equal-best car, and has probably already been put on notice that if he doesn’t shape up this will be his last season in a Mercedes F1 car.

  13. He should be happy he only got three places instead of more. Three is pretty low, after all, so I wouldn’t consider his penalty harsh.

  14. What harsh???? No where near harsh enough, Mercedes should have been banned from the race for dangerously experimenting stupid things and creating real deadly dangerous situation in the pit lane.

    Mercedes pushing FIA to slow down Red Bull claiming their pitstops are too quick and therefore too dangerous yet Mercedes is experimenting during life practice how to best drive away from a pitstop all to gain time while taking obvious risks of errors/problems.

    Can’t recall a single pit stop screw up of Red Bull in last 5 years, can remember plenty of Mercedes.

  15. Arguably it was provoked by your own team who appear to be on a crusade to make the pit lane a safer place….

  16. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    26th June 2021, 18:02

    Hahaha karma is a you know what, If your boss Toto complains about everything under the sun when his cars are second best you’ll get treated accordingly by the rest of the grid.

  17. Bottas is a punching bag at the moment, no question about it. However, he has only himself to blame. He has been poor since his first season at Mercedes though he got exposed badly this year because they don’t have that 1 second a lap advantage over the competition. I will not be surprised if Mercedes will drop him if both championships are decided before the end of the season to give Russel more time to adapt to their car.

  18. That’s how it goes, everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport.

    I guess that’s how you experience F1 when working with Toto Wolf.
    But this is one of the clearest examples of a dangerous situation which should not occur again and deserves a penalty for the driver. I’m disappointed Bottas doesn’t acknowledge the dangerous situation for the pit crews in the pit straight and thinks it is mere politics.

  19. What were you expecting, exactly?

    Shut up, Valtteri. Please. Carry on with dignity…

  20. This is El Nuevo Clásico.

  21. pastaman (@)
    26th June 2021, 19:41

    Hard to believe there was a time with no pit lane speed limits

  22. The swearing and comments like these I sense there’s a change in Bottas now. Finally coming out I guess. I wonder if it will be cathartic or just upset his balance.

  23. Valterri Bottler should concentrate on not spinning in the pitlane
    Even Mazespin hasn’t done that (yet)
    He’s been such a constant No.2 you don’t need laxatives

    1. Haas is the biggest noobs on the grid.

  24. No mister Bottas. It was caused by you and the team, by performing a dangerous public experiment in a crowded pitlane.

    I reckon the penalty given, for such a rather bizarre move, is too mild.

    Btw: did not ask Merc for more Safety (when they could not compete with Rbr and Williams) in the pitlane, quite recenter?

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