Valtteri Bottas will receive a five-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after the Mercedes Formula 1 team was forced to change the gearbox on his car.
FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer noted in his post-practice briefing on Friday at Suzuka that the gearbox on Bottas’ Mercedes W08 car had been changed since the last event at Malaysia, with the previous unit not completing the six required races.
As a result, Bottas has been referred to the stewards, who will hand him a five-place grid drop for the race in Japan on Sunday.
Bottas currently finds himself going through a rough patch of form that has seen him fall out of contention for the world championship, with the Finn now set to support teammate Lewis Hamilton’s bid for the drivers’ crown.
Bottas finished fifth-fastest in practice on Friday at Suzuka, albeit over a second slower than Hamilton, and knows there is more work to do to make up the time.
“In practice one, the car did feel better than it did in Malaysia, but we still need to work on things to make the car quicker,” Bottas said.
“As a starting point for the weekend, it definitely feels better than a week ago. My run with the soft tyres was good, but with the super-soft, I didn’t really gain any grip.
“So the main thing for me is to understand the super-soft performance. The long runs actually weren’t too bad, and hopefully we’ll see better weather tomorrow.”
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.