Valtteri Bottas will have a five-place grid penalty at the United States Grand Prix due to taking new power unit components, with back-of-the grid starts for two other Mercedes-powered cars.
Sebastian Vettel had suggested he was set for a penalty during Thursday’s media sessions and it has been confirmed that both he and George Russell will start from the back of the grid after taking a number of new components that exceed limits. However, Bottas taking a sixth internal combustion engine (ICE) is a surprise, handing the Finn a five-place grid penalty.
Bottas will therefore lose five places on the grid from wherever he qualifies on Saturday, with Mercedes taking the penalty at a track where it expects to be strong. This grid drop makes it four races in a row that Mercedes has taken a penalty, as it follows Lewis Hamilton’s 10-place grid penalty at the last race in Turkey, and consecutive races where Bottas took new components in Italy and Russia.
Whoever qualifies higher out of Vettel and Russell will start ahead at the back of the grid on Sunday, as both have taken a new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H.
FP1 also started in ominous fashion for Alpine, with Fernando Alonso bringing out the red flags when he stopped on track “as a precaution” on his first lap of the weekend, so that his team could investigate the issue.