Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has been handed a three place grid penalty after the stewards deemed the Finnish driver to have blocked Daniel Ricciardo during the second part of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Bottas failed to make it through Q2 and qualified down in 15th place as both Williams drivers struggled in the wet conditions that marred today’s session. However, he was called to the stewards’ office after appearing to block Ricciardo towards the end of Q2.
After heading through the final corner just ahead of Ricciardo, Bottas appeared to veer his car to the left hand side of the track, which forced the Red Bull driver to back off and compromise his next lap.
Although the incident did not appear to be a totally obvious case of blocking, Ricciardo was still unhappy about it, saying after qualifying that he would “have words” with Bottas about the incident. Ricciardo still managed to make it through to Q3 though, and eventually qualified in fifth place.
Having analysed the incident, the stewards have decided to give Bottas a three place grid penalty. As a result (and barring any further sanctions), the Finnish driver will start the Malaysian Grand Prix in 18th place.
He has also been given two penalty points on his FIA superlicense as part of the new rules for 2014.
This will be very disappointing for Bottas and the Williams team given their pace in the dry over the course of the weekend. The Finnish youngster starred at the Australian Grand Prix with 19 overtakes and a fifth place finish that doubled the number of points that Williams scored in the entirety of 2013.
That said, he did start the race from 15th position at Albert Park, and could be poised to fight his way back up into the points once again should the conditions allow him to do so tomorrow in Malaysia.