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Bottas: reliability issues could sway title battle

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas is increasingly making himself a part of the 2017 Formula 1 world championship battle. He's just 19 points behind his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in the standings.

Hamilton in turn has gone into the summer break 14 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel, the current leader.

With the situation so tight, Bottas fears that grid penalties caused by reliability issues could prove to be the deciding factor in this year's title battle.

Bottas has already suffered one five-place grid penalty this season. He was demoted on the grid at the British Grand Prix because of a gearbox change. A week earlier, Hamilton had suffered the same penalty in Austria.

Red Bull has also been on the receiving end of penalties, while so far Ferrari has avoided any such setbacks.

However both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have used one more turbocharger than their Mercedes counterparts. That puts them at greater risk of a penalty in the remaining nine races of the season.

“These are the rules," shrugged Bottas when asked about the situation across the paddock.

"We all have to complete the season with a certain number of mechanical parts. If a team gets too greedy, you’ll need to change some parts more often and you pay a penalty.

"It’s true the penalty affects the driver as much as the team, but both lose quite a few points, potentially," he added.

"For me it is what it is," Bottas continued when asked if he felt it was fair that drivers should be penalised for a mechanical issue outside their control.

"That’s a good point as it’s definitively penalising the drivers," he concurred. "And this year it can really affect the championship fight.

"But those are the rules now and everyone is driving within the same rules, so it’s okay."

Bottas is clearly happy at Mercedes after his winter transfer from Williams. He's scored two wins in Russia and Austria, and pole positions at Bahrain and Spielberg. Bottas is now in talks with Mercedes about extending his current one-year contract with the team.

“I feel really settled," he said. "I feel very much part of the team, the team has been really supportive in getting me up to speed so I can’t say that anything is lacking.

"For sure Lewis has been with the team for many years and that’s always a benefit, as I know for being with Williams for a long time.

“It got to a point that I feel that I can perform at my best level and we can continue to work.

"For sure there’s plenty more to come, but I feel good in the team."

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