The Finn was due to start the Russian GP in seventh place, but received a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday morning, after Mercedes changed several components of his power unit. For many, it seemed like a move to deter the progress of Max Verstappen, who would have to come across Bottas at some point in the Grand Prix. But Valtteri says it had nothing to do with Verstappen, and it was related to reliability concerns.
"It was clearly because we had to. It was too much risk of not finishing the race. We had quite a few issues and it’s obviously becoming a bit of a problem. We had to take if we wanted to finish the race."
When asked if the engine he used for his Monza charge to the podium was still in his allocation of engines, the Finn revealed that he won’t be able to use it for the rest of the season, claiming it is 'done':
"It’s done, done. Now I have this one [Russia] and then a very old one."
Talking about his race in Sochi, Bottas showed frustration with his car, saying it was 'a lot more difficult' to make progress than in Monza:
"It was a lot more difficult for me than I thought it would be, to come through the field, I thought it was going to be like in Monza, but it was more difficult. Max for example, he was able to progress much better than me, so I don’t know. Main thing I struggled with is just understeer when I got close, I couldn’t get to overtaking distance.
"He [Max] was just able to come through the field, I don’t know, need to have a look at what more I could have done, he passed me pretty easily, and I couldn’t overtake the cars ahead of me, so I had no chance.
"He seemed to make good gains and progress, and I just couldn’t do that, had no chance, so we need to have a look at why.”
Despite his difficulties, the Mercedes man still finished in the top 5, a result which he credits to the late-race rain:
"I think the rain kind of saved us today, we could get some points.
"I think we made the right call at the end, stopped early. I tried to come in one lap earlier, but the team wasn’t ready, I think with that I could’ve been on the podium, but still, I was one of the earlier ones to stop, which was the right call.
"I said I would like to stop just exiting Turn 15, but they said ‘stay out, stay out’, so I think there was just not the time. But, still, could’ve been worse.”