Motor racing-Bottas handed three place grid drop for pitlane spin

·1-min read
Steiermark Grand Prix

(Reuters) - Valteri Bottas was handed a three place grid drop at the Styrian Formula One Grand Prix for dangerous driving after he lost control and spun his Mercedes across the pitlane during Friday practice.

Stewards also gave the Finn two penalty points for the incident during the day's second session.

"When (Bottas) pulled away from his designated pit stop position, he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane," the stewards' report said.

"He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits.

"During the hearing (Bottas) stated that in the past they have been losing time in the pit departure. So they tried something new, which was to leave in second gear. As a result, the wheel spin was much higher and the result unexpected."

The stewards said the incident had to be considered potentially dangerous driving, given the presence of personnel in the pit lane.

Bottas has failed to finish on the podium in the last three races and is fifth overall in the championship, having scored half the points of seven-times world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn's contract is up at the end of the season. He had said earlier he would be surprised to get a penalty for a "normal mistake".

The drop is a blow for Mercedes as they fight a tight battle with Red Bull, who are 37 points clear in the constructors' standings afters even races.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen is 12 points clear of Hamilton.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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