Valtteri Bottas’ Australian Grand Prix prospects have taken a further hit after the Finn’s heavy accident in Saturday’s final qualifying session.

The Mercedes driver hit the barriers at Turn 2 on his first flying lap in Q3 after putting a wheel on the still-damp grass at the exit of Turn 1, causing significant damage to the right-hand side and rear of his F1W09.

As a result of the accident, his mechanics were forced to change his car’s gearbox. This breached Article 23.5 (a) of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, requiring that a gearbox must last six consecutive Grands Prix before it can be replaced.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W09 - 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Bottas was a certainty to qualify inside the top-six but will now start from fifteenth place after a gearbox change penalty.

As a result, the three-time Grand Prix winner earned a five-place grid penalty and will start Sunday’s race from fifteenth place.

Bottas joins local hero Daniel Ricciardo in earning a grid penalty for Sunday’s 58-lap race after the Australian – who qualified fifth-fastest – was demoted three grid places for driving too quickly on his in-lap to the pits during a red-flag interruption in Friday’s second practice session.

Images via Ignite Image

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Geoff Burke

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