Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas

Five-Place Grid Penalty for Bottas Gearbox Change

By Adam Tate, Associate Editor

Valtteri Bottas is set for a five place grid penalty for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, by virtue of an unscheduled gearbox change for the No. 77 W08.

The controversial engine and gearbox change grid penalties, which Ross Brawn is considering banning for 2018 and beyond have proved costly for many drivers, and this penalty for Bottas comes at the worst time for Mercedes. FP2 was a washout as the skies above Suzuka Circuit dropped a deluge of rain on the track, but in FP1 the top three teams were separated by mere tenths of a second. Lewis Hamilton will need all the help he can get from Bottas on Sunday to stave off the onslaught from Ferrari and Red Bull, but the penalty means the best Bottas could theoretically start now is sixth.

With rain expected to dissipate for Qualifying, Bottas will need to be at his best to minimize the damage of the penalty. Further pouring the pressure on Mercedes is the baffling fact that Hamilton has never set a pole position at Suzuka, whereas title rival Sebastian Vettel has set four. Mercedes had a very lucky run in Singapore and Malaysia, but it looks like they will have a tougher time fighting for victory and big points in Japan this weekend. Ferrari and Red Bull must be salivating at the prospect.

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Associate Editor of Motorsports Tribune and jack of all trades, Adam is our resident Formula 1 expert. He has covered F1, IndyCar, WEC, IMSA, NASCAR, PWC and more. His work has been featured on multiple outlets including AutoWeek and A MT Co-founder, Adam has been with us since the beginning when he and Joey created Tribute Racing back in 2012. When not at the track or writing about cars, Adam can be found enjoying the Oregon back roads in his GTI.