Valtteri Bottas admitted a small mistake led to his crash in the final moments of qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, which his Mercedes team is hopeful he will not have to take any penalties.
The Finn crashed at the final corner, sliding along the wall before hitting the start of another barrier that caused significant damage to his car. Explaining the error, Bottas says he simply got slightly wide and was then caught out by a lack of grip, admitting he suffered some pain initially after the 17G impact.
“It was in the last lap in Q3, in the last corner I went a bit deep, picked a bit more understeer mid-corner and went a bit wider than what I wanted,” Bottas said. “It was still OK but then, on traction, obviously being a bit too wide, it was dirtier, so I lost the traction, hit the wall and then I slid along the wall.
“Obviously at the end there was the TecPro barrier that was a bit nasty, on how it was at the end. It started as just the wall… I knew in the last run there was no threat for me from the cars behind, so I could push hard, which I did. It was a pretty good lap until then, it could have potentially put me in the fight for third place, so it’s annoying it ended that way.
“I did a mistake and in terms of impact, on the initial one I hit my knees together, so in the first five minutes I couldn’t feel my right knee, but now it’s normal, I have no pain.”
Speaking after being cleared by the medical staff in Mexico City, Bottas is hopeful no components will need to be replaced that would result in a penalty.
“We had the qualifying debrief and they are optimistic,” Bottas said. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to do for the boys, it was quite a strange incident, so it’s different from the many different parts that are normally damaged in incidents. So far we still think it will be OK, but we still need to wait.”
And team principal Toto Wolff added he is 90% sure Bottas will escape without a grid drop, with power unit components, a new gearbox or parts that are not of identical specification potentially leading to a penalty.
“We are 90 percent confident we can fix without any penalties,” Wolff said. “It was an unusual angle of impact so I think we got away with that. They are rebuilding it as we speak. We have to look into the detail but we have not seen any damage to the gearbox but we do not know if it is leaking.”