Valtteri Bottas will start the Russian Grand Prix from 17th place after taking a tactical power unit penalty after qualifying.
Mercedes looked set to dominate in Sochi after comfortably setting the pace in Friday practice and with Max Verstappen starting from the back of the grid due to a power unit penalty. However, wet conditions in qualifying saw Mercedes caught out by Lewis Hamilton’s pit lane crash that left both drivers waiting for a long time to change to slick tires and unable to improve, resulting in Bottas qualifying seventh and Hamilton fourth.
On a track where it is easier to overtake than some venues thanks to the long run to Turn 2, Mercedes has opted to take a fifth new power unit for Bottas in order to have more components to use later this season. The move could be a crucial one, with the team currently just 18 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
Officially it’s a 15-place grid penalty for Bottas as he has exceeded limits on three components – ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H – and drops him to 17th, still ahead of Nicholas Latifi, Charles Leclerc and Verstappen who all have power unit penalties.
As well as the change for Bottas, Mercedes had to repair some slight rear wing endplate damage on Hamilton’s car after his spin at the end of Q3 that saw him nudge the barrier at Turn 16. The repair is within parc ferme regulations so carries no penalty.
Antonio Giovinazzi has also taken a new gearbox ahead of the race, earning him a five-place grid penalty. However, with Bottas’ penalty applied, Giovinazzi stays in the 16th place he originally was on the gird after qualifying, with Nikita Mazepin moving up two spots to 15th for Haas.