Motor racing-Bottas points finger at rivals after 'harsh' penalty

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Steiermark Grand Prix
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By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) - Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Saturday his Styrian Grand Prix grid penalty was too harsh and suggested it had been fuelled by rival teams complaining to officials.

The Finn, who qualified second, starts fifth at Austria's Red Bull Ring on Sunday as a result of collecting a three-place drop on Friday for spinning his car across the pit lane in practice.

McLaren, who use Mercedes engines, were quick to bring the incident to the attention of race director Michael Masi over the team radio.

"Michael, that's absolutely ridiculous," said team manager Paul James. "He could have taken our guys out there".

Bottas said at the time he had tried "something different" in getting out of the box in second gear but felt it had been a normal incident.

"My personal view is (it's) quite harsh," the Finn said of the penalty.

"I never imagined...there would be a penalty but of course other teams, when they see the opportunity, they complained that it was dangerous so that we would get penalised.

"That’s how it goes, everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport."

Formula One is publishing radio messages between the teams and Masi for the first time this season.

"It's highly entertaining how quickly some sporting directors jump on the channel to Masi and come with Armageddon scenarios," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told reporters.

"It's good that these channels are now opened up so we can all have a laugh."

Wolff recognised an out of control car could have hurt someone, and said he understood the penalty although he also found it harsh.

"I find it harsh particularly against someone like Valtteri who is never putting a foot wrong. He was very honest and straightforward with his explanation," he added.

"Many others would have come out and said 'I don't know what happened; the banner on the floor was slippery and you need to change the way you paint'. He came out and said 'I tried to optimise my start and I lost it.'

"We should have a little bit more integrity like Valtteri has around the paddock," added the Austrian.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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