Valtteri Bottas can start no higher than fourth in Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix, after the Mercedes driver received a three-place grid penalty.

Bottas, who sits fifth in the Formula One driver standings, was penalised for a spin in the pit lane during Friday practice.

The incident was adjudged to be "dangerous driving in the pit lane" by race strewards.

"When BOT pulled away from his designated pit stop position, he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane," read a stewards' statement.

"He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits.

"During the hearing BOT stated that in the past they have been losing time in the pit departure. So they tried something new, which was to leave in second gear.

"As a result, the wheel spin was much higher and the result unexpected. Therefore he didn't manage to control the car properly into the fast lane. This has to be considered as potentially dangerous driving, especially as personnel were around in the pit lane."

The penalty is a dent to not only Bottas' chances for the race, but also Mercedes hopes in the championship. They are battling with Red Bull, whose driver Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by 131 points to 119.

It is a punishment that will also come as a surprise to Bottas, who said after the session: "We tried something different getting out from the box and there were some variables to what we normally do with the wheelspin, so that's why I spun.

"I would be surprised [if the stewards took action]. It's a normal mistake, it happens. I'm sure they want to understand what happened."