Bottas misses Australian GP due to back issue

Melbourne, Australia ( - Williams driver Valtteri Bottas did not compete in Sunday's Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix after suffering a back injury in qualifying the day prior.

F1's governing body, the FIA, determined that Bottas was unfit to drive in the 58-lap race at Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit after being examined by a FIA medical delegate shortly before the start of the event.

Williams said in a team statement that it respect the FIA's decision and will now work with Valtteri ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix (last weekend in March) to ensure he receives the treatment required to get him back to full fitness."

Bottas experienced back pain during the late stages of Saturday's qualifying session. The Finn was examined by the medical staff at the circuit after he had qualified sixth. He was then transferred to nearby Albert Hospital for further precautionary scans, which revealed that he had sustained some soft tissue damage in his lower back. Bottas remained in the hospital overnight and had worked with a physiotherapist prior to his final assessment by the FIA.

"Unfortunately towards the end of Q2 (second round in qualifying), I started to feel a pain in my back," Bottas said after qualifying had concluded. "Given the back complaint I had during the session, the team and I felt it sensible to get me checked out at the local hospital and we await their diagnosis."

Bottas' absence from the Australian GP reduced the starting grid to just 17 cars.