It was announced after qualifying yesterday that Lewis Hamilton has switched back to his original engine of 2016 for the Russian Grand Prix after encountering an MGU-H in qualifying.
Hamilton will start from tenth on the grid after the engine issue occurred ahead of Q3 on Saturday. Mercedes introduced an upgrade to that power unit ahead of the weekend but had the original engines used at the Australian Grand Prix on stand-by as replacements in case of any problems.
The spare engine has been fitted with a new turbocharger and MGU-H, his third of the season of the five allocated to each driver, while the control electronics and energy store have also been replaced to “eliminate them as a potential source of the problem”.
To ensure Hamilton’s spare was replaced with parts of the same specification, Mercedes flew out a brand new fuel system on a chartered jet overnight to Sochi which arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning in a bid to maximise his chances during the grand prix.
The MGU-H failure was Hamilton’s second in two races — described as a “freak” occurrence publically by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. He will retain tenth on the grid despite the change as he is yet to exceed the five engines allocated to each driver throughout a season. He moved on to his second power unit after the issue in China.
In qualifying the reigning world champion received his second reprimand of the season for failing to correctly rejoin the track after an off in Q1. Another reprimand this season will automatically lead to a ten-place grid penalty as two of the three reprimands must be related to driving — in Bahrain he was given one for reversing his car on the race track.