Mercedes has reported Valtteri Bottas’ car is extensively damaged after he crashed heavily at the end of qualifying at the Mexican Grand Prix, raising the prospect he could start the race from the pit-lane.
Bottas lost control of his car at the final corner of Q3, sliding along the wall and hitting the barrier at speed. The accident left the left-hand side of his car badly damaged.
After the accident, the team confirmed the damage is severe and that is is assessing exactly what work needs to be completed ahead of the race. A change of chassis would prompt a pit-lane start on a weekend Bottas must avoid a 14-point swing against Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton if he wants to take the title fight to the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin.
“We are 90 percent confident we can fix without any penalties,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said after qualifying. “It was an unusual angle of impact so I think we got away with that. “They are rebuilding it as we speak.We have to look into the detail but we have not seen any damage to the gearbox but we do not know if it is leaking.
Bottas was attempting to improve on sixth position when he crashed. Hamilton will line up in fourth position. Were Bottas to start from the pit-lane, he would need to fight through the field to ensure he scored the points needed to keep the championship fight rolling into next weekend.
The Finn, who was given an all-clear from his precautionary trip to the medical centre after the accident, thought third on the grid was possible if he had kept his car out of the wall.
“The last run in Q3, the last corner I went a bit deep and went wider than I wanted and I just lost traction and went into the wall and at the end was a Tecpro barrier, which was a bit nasty,” he said. “It was a good lap since then and I could have been fighting for third place.
“In the first few minutes, I felt it in my right knee, I think it was a nerve thing but it is alright now. We have had a debrief and the team are optimistic. There is a lot of hard work to do but it was a strange incident, so a lot of parts that usually get damaged in a normal crash, so we think we will be ok.”