Valtteri Bottas was the highest profile casualty of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, after his Mercedes ended up in pieces in the safety barrier at the exit of turn 2.
The team subsequently confirmed that the gearbox had been damaged in the crash and would need to be replaced. It means Bottas will have a five place grid drop, demoting him to 15th on the grid.
The session had been red-flagged while the wreck was cleaned up and Bottas himself was attended to by the medical team.
“All good,” Bottas said when asked how he was feeling after a mandatory visit to the in-field medical centre for evaluation.
“It started the first timed lap,” he explained. “Used a bit more track in the exit of turn 1, went a bit too wide actually.
“I think I was just pushing a bit too hard. I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp.
“Just surprised that it’s still a bit damp from the rain, previously,” he continued. “Lost the rear of the car. Tried to correct it, but it happened so quick.
“There was nothing I could do really, and I hit the wall at the exit of turn 2.
“It’s very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car.”
The team now faces a race against time to repair the damaged W09 overnight before the start of the race on Sunday.
“It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race,” said Bottas.
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“It was a big hit and the boys will have a long job list to get the car ready to race,” commented team principal Toto Wolff. “A really unfortunate end to qualifying for Valtteri.
“It’s now about putting the incident behind him and recovering as strongly as possible,” he added.
“We are hugely disappointed for Valtteri,” contributed Mercedes technical director James Allison.
But the driver himself is far from giving up on the weekend.
“We approach tomorrow with a fighting spirit,” Bottas insisted. “It’s still no points from Saturday, so points are given on Sunday. We go for the race and try and come up as high as we can.
“Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we’ll try everything we can. Maybe it’s a little easier this year with the added DRS zone. We’ll find out tomorrow.
“We have a good car, so I’ll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it’s really quick, so that’s something positive from today.
“Going to give it all as a team – and me as well – so we’ll see.”
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