Bottas to start Austrian GP from back of grid after power unit change

Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after Alfa Romeo took a raft of fresh power unit elements ahead of this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo F1 Team

Two-time Austria race winner Bottas took a fresh engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, MGU-K and control electronics ahead of opening practice at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, triggering the penalty.

For each of the elements, Bottas exceeded the season limit in place by the FIA, meaning he is handed an automatic back-of-grid penalty for Sunday.

Bottas will start Saturday’s sprint race from wherever he finishes qualifying on Friday evening in Austria before then dropping to the rear of the field for Sunday’s grand prix. The same process was used to drop the Finn to the back of the pack at last year’s Italian Grand Prix after he won the Saturday sprint race for Mercedes.

It comes as a further setback for Bottas after a gearbox issue forced him to retire from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend, marking only his second DNF of the season.

Bottas currently sits eighth in the drivers’ standings, having scored 46 of Alfa Romeo’s 51 points so far this year.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42, kicks up sparks

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42, kicks up sparks

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference, Bottas said that Alfa Romeo’s recurring reliability issues were “not nice” and “really troubling us”.

“It’s not always like one issue,” Bottas said. “It’s a few things here and there and different things keep happening. So that means we've not been able to score points.”

Besides Bottas’s changes, Lando Norris has taken a fresh engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K on his McLaren, but will receive no penalty as he remains within the season allocation for each of those elements.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has taken his second energy store, while Bottas’s Alfa Romeo teammate Zhou Guanyu has a new control electronics for this weekend.

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