Valtteri Bottas’ tough start to the 2021 Formula One season has continued at the Red Bull Ring as the Finn got hit with a three-place grid penalty ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
During FP2, Bottas was exiting his Mercedes pit box after switching to the hard compound tyre. However, as he lit up the rears to lay some rubber down in the box, the two-time winner around the Austrian venue half spun in the pit lane and came to a stop just past the McLaren pit area, which was full of mechanics.
Despite that near miss, the McLaren crew assisted Bottas to help the Finn get his car back into a position where he could return to the circuit.
McLaren’s sporting director Paul James was immediately on the radio up to Masi to voice his displeasure at what had happened.
“Michael that’s absolutely ridiculous, he could have taken our guys out there, and the pit wall,” James said.
“Agree,” was Masi’s reply. The incident was then under investigation.
Following the stewards’ investigation, Bottas received his grid drop and two points were added to his licence.
“When Bottas pulled away from his designated pit stop position, he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane,” the stewards’ said in a statement when announcing the penalty. “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 wheelspin 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.”