Valtteri Bottas just can't catch a break this season. After a spin in the pit lane during FP2 on Friday, his P2 Qualifying performance has been hit with a three-place grid penalty. As a result, Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton will be lining up beside pole sitter Max Verstappen at the Styrian Grand Prix on Sunday, with Bottas starting in fifth.

Bottas spun his Mercedes in the pit lane on Friday as soon as he left his garage. Apparently, the team had been experimenting on launching in second gear to help them gain an advantage over the Red bulls in the pit stops. However, it backfired as Bottas lost control of the car in a scary incident that could have resulted in tragedy if he had spun into a number of mechanics that were nearby.

The Stewards considered the incident to be "potentially dangerous driving," hence the penalty. Bottas did not hold back and gave his opinion on the penalty. "My personal view: it's quite harsh," he said after qualifying.

He then threw shade at competitors, implying that the penalty was given due to complaints from other teams. "I never imagined after that, that there would be a penalty. But of course other teams, when there's an opportunity they complain that it's dangerous, etcetera, so we get penalised."

He didn't mince words and said "Everyone's trying to screw you over in this sport. For sure, it can be a dangerous situation if there's many people in the pit lane but, no," he added. However, stewards are obliged to give penalties for dangerous actions even if no untoward incident actually occurred. Some common violations include speeding in the pit lane, dangerous release of vehicles from the garage and crossing the white line on the pit exit, to name a few.

Nevertheless, Bottas admits that the Mercedes cars did much better in qualifying than they expected. "I honestly think it was a good qualifying. I think I've been a little bit lost with set-up during the weekend so far, but then to be able to go in the right direction with the set-up."

He also slammed rumours about getting less support from the team. He shared that his teammate's engineers have been sharing valuable information with him in order for both cars to have good results.

"We've been working closely with Lewis as well in trying to find the optimal set-up and definitely got some guidance from his side of the garage because I was definitely lacking a bit of pace on Friday and was a bit confused which way to go.

However, he admitted that the Red Bulls were stronger during qualifying, but the Mercedes cars have always had good race pace so they have a good chance to create good results. It will be a competitive race for sure, and all eyes will be at the front of the grid as championship rivals Verstappen and Hamilton go head-to-head towards the first corner.

Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas Mark Thompson/POOL