Bottas hopes hit by five-place grid penalty
Valtteri Bottas's prospects of a third win this year were scuppered last night as the Finn received a five-place grid penalty for the British Grand Prix.
The punishment, given for a replacement gearbox, was deeply frustrating for a driver who had led Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in both free practice sessions yesterday.
It is the second race in succession that an unscheduled Mercedes gearbox change has led to their drivers being sanctioned, after Hamilton suffered the same five-place drop in Austria last weekend.
The team confirmed that the damage causing the switch was the same as in Hamilton's car but that they were confident of resolving the problem for the rest of the season.
"It is understood and contained," a spokesman said.
Despite a stellar display in practice, Bottas (above) claimed that he still needed to make substantial improvements to the balance of his car around Silverstone's many high-speed corners. "There is definitely still work to do to get the car more drivable and to be able to trust it more," he said.
Encouragingly for Hamilton, who trails Sebastian Vettel by 20 points in the quest for the title, Mercedes appear to have found an edge in pace on Ferrari as he chases a fifth victory at his home race. Vettel even reported that he felt "dizzy" after his team's experiment with a cockpit screen, one of the forms of head protection that Formula One is introducing for 2018, went awry.
"Forward vision is not very good," he explained. "It's because of the curvature that you get a fair bit of distortion, plus some downwash along the straights that pushes the helmet forwards. We had another run planned with it, but I didn't like it, so we took it off."
Vettel was nearly half adrift of Bottas in afternoon practice but indicated afterwards that Ferrari had decided to run their newly-upgraded engine on reduced power. "On a Friday, you don't run maximum performance," he said.
"The engine has quite a lot of miles still to do in its life, so we are trying to save it. It's working."
The fallout continued, meanwhile, over Hamilton's provocative action in avoiding this week's F1 Live event in Trafalgar Square in favour of a short break with his friends in Mykonos. "From Lewis' side, if he wants a holiday he needs to take a holiday," Max Verstappen said. "If it makes him faster, he should do that. But I think English fans would have liked to see him there. If I had done that in Holland, they would have shot me." (© Daily Telegraph, London)