Valtteri Bottas says he thinks stewards have been too harsh in giving him a three-place grid penalty for the Brazilian Grand Prix after he was judged to have overtaken under a red flag in FP2.

The Finn passed the Sauber of Felipe Nasr as red flags were deployed to clear the stricken McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso, an infraction that landed him a penalty on the grid for Sunday's race.

Demoting him from fourth to seventh on the grid, Bottas explains he was committed to overtaking Nasr as the flags came out and didn't want to cause a bigger incident had he slowed suddenly. Nasr also sided with Bottas over the incident.

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"I think I did nothing wrong. I wasn't happy with the penalty at all. I was just trying to be safe and avoid locking wheels or do anything silly when I saw the light panel with the red flag.

"I was already committed to overtaking, Nasr was completely to the right of the track, so I think the move was completely safe. I slowed down very quickly after I saw the red flag but they were very strict and there was a penalty."

Despite this penalty, Bottas is confident his Williams is capable of challenging Ferrari, provided he can get past the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat ahead.

"With the penalty I'm at least starting from the clean side of the track and I think we can still have a good race. It's a good side of the track to start from, because it means I'll be on the inside for Turn 2. We need to attack to be on the podium. It is possible, we'll have a long race ahead of us and I'm sure plenty of things are going to happen."