Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Bottas to start Italian Grand Prix last after “strategic” engine change

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas will start the Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after Mercedes decided to change his power unit.

He has moved onto his fourth power unit of the season, exceeding the maximum allocation of three, which automatically means he will start from the back.

Under Formula 1’s sprint qualifying rules, the penalty will only apply to Bottas’ starting position for the grand prix on Sunday. It will not affect his starting position for Saturday’s sprint qualifying race.

A Mercedes spokesperson confirmed the engine change was done for “strategic” reasons and not due to a problem with Bottas’ power unit.

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Power unit components used so far

No.CarEngineDriverICETCMGU-HMGU-KESCEEX
31AlpineRenaultEsteban Ocon3333228
14AlpineRenaultFernando Alonso3333228
11Red BullHondaSergio Perez4444446
10AlphaTauriHondaPierre Gasly3333227
55FerrariFerrariCarlos Sainz Jnr3332226
22AlphaTauriHondaYuki Tsunoda3333335
33Red BullHondaMax Verstappen3333226
16FerrariFerrariCharles Leclerc3332225
7Alfa RomeoFerrariKimi Raikkonen3332226
99Alfa RomeoFerrariAntonio Giovinazzi3332226
47HaasFerrariMick Schumacher3332225
9HaasFerrariNikita Mazepin3332225
5Aston MartinMercedesSebastian Vettel3333224
4McLarenMercedesLando Norris3333225
77MercedesMercedesValtteri Bottas4444224
44MercedesMercedesLewis Hamilton3333223
63WilliamsMercedesGeorge Russell3332223
3McLarenMercedesDaniel Ricciardo3332223
31WilliamsMercedesNicholas Latifi3332223
18Aston MartinMercedesLance Stroll3332223

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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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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19 comments on “Bottas to start Italian Grand Prix last after “strategic” engine change”

  1. How does this make sense?

    1. I don’t understand either.

    2. So he can cover Hamilton easier when Mercedes rivals are pushing on track.

    3. @paeschli
      They need a 4th PU anyway and by splitting their penalties (Bottas this weekend and Hamilton on another), they make sure they have at least one car at the front. Plus Monza isn’t the worst place for overtaking either.
      And Bottas can also score between one and three points in the sprint, because the penalty doesn’t come into effect until the race on Sunday.

    4. @paeschli it is a consequence of the crash between Bottas and Russell in Imola – because Bottas’s power unit was written off in that accident, he had to switch to a new power unit prematurely. That means he would, at some point this season, have to take a power unit penalty for taking an extra power unit.

      There are meant to be 7 or 8 races remaining in the season (it depends on whether we do definitely get a replacement for the Australian GP – whilst a race in Qatar was supposedly in the works, the announcement hasn’t been forthcoming yet). For a driver in Bottas’s position, if you change the engine now, it means you can probably able to balance your mileage across your remaining components to avoid having to take another power unit before the end of the season.

      The other aspect is, because the sprint race tomorrow counts as a qualifying session, Bottas can start that race from the front row and earn a couple of points before the main race. Although he is going to have to take the pain of a grid drop on Sunday, there is the potential to mitigate some of that damage by scoring some points on Saturday.

      Reply moderated
  2. Going to be interesting to see what Merc do tomorrow, and how Bottas will react knowing he’s no longer a Merc driver for next season. Considering how important 1 point could be in this championship, I could see Merc (try to) swap the drivers around during/near the end of Sprint Qualifying, as Bottas would lose a point (but Merc keep the same total) but no pole position come Sunday

    1. i don’t see the problem of swapping the merc drivers if they 1 and 2 in the spring race as bottas is starting from the back anyway

      1. @lucifer I don’t think there will be a problem from the team’s perspective, I think it’s how co-operative Bottas wants to be now he knows he isn’t at Merc next year. I expect he’ll co-operate, but we’ll have to wait and see

  3. Isn’t a new power unit a 10 place penalty?

    And if Bottas wins the Sprint tomorrow, 1) Does he still get 3 points? 2) Is he credited as the pole position holder?

    1. A new engine (i.e. traditional combustion chamber) is 10 places, a full new power unit adds up to something like 35 or 45 or something.

      1) Will still get 3 points yes
      2) Not sure about pole though. Schumacher at Monaco in 2012 wasn’t the official holder, despite being fastest in Quali, Mark Webber was. However Leclerc was pole position holder in Monaco this year. I’m not sure though to be honest

      1. Usually when you get penalised you lose pole, leclerc wasn’t, so he kept it.

        1. @esploratore1 Thanks! I’ll try and remember that for the future. Meaning that the original’s commenter’s Q2 answer is no.

      2. @esploratore1 is right. Leclerc wasn’t penalised, he just failed to start the race.

        Bottas won’t be credited with pole for the Italian GP.

      3. IIRC Ferrari gambled with Leclerc car, they did not swapped major parts after the crash, because those were apparently ok. It was about replacing the gearbox, they decided not to do so, and then when they fired up the car and he tried to go to the grid, it became clear that the decision was bad.
        Today I have heard something similar, so yes changing multiple parts of the power unit can imply more than a 10 place grid drop.

        1. And yes, imo the difference keeping or loosing a pole in the statisics depends of whether the grid grop is because of some changed parts or is because a non-technical, but sporting penalty, like unsafe driving or impeding.

  4. Race this mockery of the total a makes sprint…

  5. I think Red Bull will do the same with Perez. They can get through the sprint first but if he’s still in a similar position, they’ll change everything and try to follow Bottas through the field.

  6. If Perez rises to 4th-5th in the Sprint race (and if he can rise to 3rd at the Race start) and Hamilton-Verstappen stay crash-free in P1-P2, then it’s Red Bull’s chance to attack Hamilton’s strategy in the race with both cars for a change.
    Bottas will spend most of the race climbing the grid, so Red Bull can potentially salvage a good result in a circuit that clearly doesn’t suit them.

    The good thing with the calendar is that the next 5 races at least are overtaking-friendly so Red Bull can choose any circuit for Verstappen’s obligatory engine change without having a massive disadvantage…

  7. Punishment for Taking the fastest lap in Zandfort and making Hamilton pit again for Fresh tires to get fastest lap

    Reply moderated

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