It was announced this afternoon that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of a grid penalty after Mercedes fitted the last complete power unit of his season’s allocation ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Under the regulations each driver is allowed to use five of each power unit component before incurring penalties and Hamilton is now on his fifth MGU-H and turbocharger of the year. He says it is now inevitable he will use a sixth of those components over the remaining 13 races, which, if taken at the same race, would result in a 15-place grid drop at one of the future races.
He has now used three internal combustion engines and MGU-K units as well as four energy stores and control electronics.
In an interview with the media this afternoon, Hamilton has no idea what has happened but is dealing with the situation as best as possible. Hamilton stated the following:-
‘I don’t have an answer to why it’s happened the way it has but I’m starting with my last [full] engine this weekend and so I will have at least one race where I start dead last, most likely two, probably. With two more fresh engines I’ll have to take the sixth and seventh [components]. The worst thing is that I am the only Mercedes driver [including drivers at customer teams] to have this, so for sure it’s difficult for us as a team and it’s difficult considering we are the Mercedes team, so you wouldn’t expect it to happen.
‘If there is 40 engines you would hope that we would have the best of the 40 but that’s just the way it goes and I’ll just have to do the best I can with the one I have now and hopefully the next one or two I get it doesn’t happen.’
When further asked if he was frustrated by the issue, Hamilton added the following:-
‘Well for sure it’s not easy to look at the table and you see eight Mercedes drivers and everyone else is on the normal plan, on their second engine and still have four engines left and I only have one left, for sure it doesn’t feel great but there’s nothing I can do about it.
‘Speaking to anyone about it won’t make no difference, it is what it is. I don’t fully understand why it’s happened but I just hope that Mercedes grows from it and I hope they learn something from the faults that they’ve found on mine and hope it doesn’t happen to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz engines.’
Hamilton finally added that the Mercedes team will aim to lessen the impact of the penalties by making the component changes at circuits where overtaking is possible. Hamilton concluded with the following:-
‘I will try to look to take it at a circuit where I feel like I will be able to get the furthest up, closest, maybe a track where I might be able to catch up and maybe try to challenge for a win,” he said. “That’s my thought process and I have to go into it thinking I can still win it. There might be safety cars, there could be all sorts so I will try to have an optimistic view on it but it’s not that easy to overtake at some places so…
‘The percentage chances of Nico winning and me finishing second or further back is obviously higher, but we all try to minimise firstly the engines that we have to take. It is what it is so you just have to deal with it and try to weave your way through it.’