Bottas hit with grid penalty as Mercedes makes strategic move

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas will start today's Russian Grand Prix from P17 after the Anglo-German team changed some power unit elements overnight.

Bottas qualified only P7 at the Sochi Autodrom despite having shown great pace on the opening day at a track where he usually excels. However, Mercedes were unable to react on the changeable conditions in the last segment of yesterday’s qualifying session which saw Bottas unable to capitalize on his car’s speed.

The Anglo-German team has now communicated that they used this opportunity to change some power unit elements in the Finn’s W12. This was an surprising move from Mercedes as Bottas’ previous power unit was also changed for the Italian Grand Prix just two weeks ago, which indicated that he should have been able to complete the rest of the season with the PUs he has in his current pool.

The FIA statement issued this morning revealed that Bottas has taken his 5th internal combustion engine, 5th turbocharger and 5th motor generator unit - heat with the change of these three elements triggering a 15-place grid penalty.

The move is believed to be a tactical one as Lewis Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen is also starting from the back of the grid after receiving a fourth Honda power unit. With Bottas now set to start just three places in front of Verstappen, he could compromise the Dutchman’s attempt to charge through the field today.

With his main rivals starting from the back of the grid, Hamilton could win today's Russian Grand Prix and fight his way back to the top of the Drivers' Championship after having trailed Verstappen by five points following the Italian Grand Prix.