Bottas to take tactical Russian GP penalty for F1 engine change

Valtteri Bottas is set to start from towards the back of the Russian Grand Prix grid after Mercedes elected to change his Formula 1 power unit overnight.
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.

The move is a tactical one from Mercedes as part of a bid to thwart Max Verstappen’s recovery bid from the very back of the grid for a complete change of engine components earlier in the weekend.

A Mercedes spokesperson confirmed the planned change to 

Verstappen, who leads Lewis Hamilton by five points in the world championship standings, is due to start 20th.

It is believed Bottas will line up from 17th on the grid, ahead of Nicholas Latifi’s Williams, the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and Verstappen.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff indicated after qualifying that Bottas could take a strategic engine penalty to try and compromise Verstappen’s charge through the field and therefore boost Hamilton’s title aspirations.

“We are still thinking about possible strategic decisions to be taken in the next hour or so on what the best and quickest race strategy could be for him,” Wolff said on Saturday in Sochi.

Hamilton will start the Russian GP from fourth on the grid after an error-strewn qualifying blew his chances of claiming pole position.

It marks the second engine change in as many races for Bottas after a new power unit was fitted to his W12 at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Mercedes say the decision gives Bottas another fresh engine in his pool for the remaining eight races of the year and feel it will have little impact on his own prospects for the race.

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