Bottas set for five-place grid drop at Suzuka after F1 gearbox change

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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.”