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Bottas takes a 5-place grid penalty for the USGP

Valtteri Bottas talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the 2021 USGP in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mark Sutton - Pool/Getty Images)
Valtteri Bottas talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the 2021 USGP in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mark Sutton - Pool/Getty Images)
Niharika Ghorpade

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who topped the timesheets for the first free practice of the USGP weekend, has been reprimanded with a five-place grid penalty for an engine change. FIA confirmed that the Finn will be switching to his sixth engine of the season and has used three more than the permitted limit of three per season.

In a surprise confirmation, Bottas switched to the sixth ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) of the season, incurring a five-place grid drop for the race. Mercedes has previously confirmed their reliability issues this season, resulting in a fifth ICE and component change in Russia for Bottas and a fifth ICE change for Lewis Hamilton.


Valtteri Bottas' USGP grid penalty: Mercedes' Finn driver penalized for changing to the 6th engine of the season

While the ICE change on Bottas’ car is the only change confirmed for now, a full engine change of other power unit components could result in a difficult weekend for the team.

A full change involving components such as the Turbo Charger, MGU-H and MGU-K would send the Finn to the back of the grid for the race. It would also mean Hamilton minus his wingman for the USGP.

"We've unfortunately had some reliability issues that keep coming back."Mercedes boss Toto Wolff explains Valtteri Bottas' penalty after his 𝘀𝗶𝘅𝘁𝗵 new engine of the season#SkyF1 | #USGP | #F1

Toto Wolff expressed the team’s reliability concerns while speaking to Sky Sports after FP1. The Mercedes team boss said,

“We’ve unfortunately had since mid year some reliability issues that keep coming back”.

The Austrian team principal added,

“I think we understand now much better what it is, but it means that there is no durability in running them and that means potential DNFs.”

The larger speculation after Bottas’ engine penalty is whether Hamilton will follow suit, something Wolff has hinted at over the Turkish GP weekend. A swap to a sixth engine on Hamilton’s car could mean a grid drop for the Briton at a critical time in the title battle.

Valtteri Bottas of driving the Mercedes W12 during practice ahead of the 2021 USGP in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Valtteri Bottas of driving the Mercedes W12 during practice ahead of the 2021 USGP in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Bottas' car is the third Mercedes-powered car to switch to a fresher engine, incurring penalties. The other two Mercedes-powered cars are that of George Russell and Sebastian Vettel, who have opted for a full component change, resulting in multiple penalties and a drop to the back of the grid.


Edited by Ashish Yadav

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