Valtteri Bottas’ five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix is “not a real punishment”, Red Bull have claimed.

The Finn was given the sanction by the stewards after causing the multi-car collision at the start in Hungary, which left Max Verstappen’s car damaged and wiped out Sergio Perez.

However, given the usual pace advantage between Mercedes, Red Bull and the rest, team boss Christian Horner sees little real impact on Bottas’ race this weekend.

“Great strategy from Mercedes,” he told Auto Bild. “Valtteri did a great job for them by knocking out both of our cars.

“He gets the penalty for the next race, but he makes up for that in two laps at Spa,” he added. “It’s not a real punishment.”

Red Bull’s biggest point of anger after the incident was it added to the ever-increasing bill for crash damage this season, with Helmut Marko claiming Mercedes had already cost the team $3million.

“It [the grid penalty] doesn’t repair the damage he did to us,” Horner continued, “especially when you look at the budget cap. The effects are immense, the costs are brutal.

“The first impressions indicate that Perez’s engine is no longer operational either.

“It’s very frustrating, also for Honda, because it doesn’t come from reliability, but from accidents that we did not cause.”

The stewards later explained that the wet conditions meant they were more lenient towards Bottas and Lance Stroll, who made a similar mistake behind.

Looking ahead to Spa, a key battle will be over wing levels and who can optimise Sector 1 and Sector 3 without losing out in the middle.

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