Mercedes have taken a 10-place grid penalty on Lewis Hamilton’s car for this weekends race at Istanbul Park.
The championship leader is now on his fourth ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) of the season. F1 regulations state that a driver is allowed three throughout the year.
As Mercedes has only changed the ICE, Hamilton will start 10 places lower than his qualifying position. Unlike his championship rival Max Verstappen, who took an entirely new engine for the previous race weekend in Sochi, Hamilton is not required to start from the back of the grid.
With only 2 points between Hamilton and the Red Bull driver, the decision will not have been taken lightly.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said:
“There’s a balance of the risk of a reliability issue, obviously the thing you definitely don’t want to do is fail during a race and then have to take a penalty anyway, and then there’s the performance element because the Power Units do lose a bit of a horsepower over their life.”
Hamilton, who set the fasted time in first and second practice, will still be looking to place his Mercedes on pole tomorrow during qualifying. Hoping he can then repeat his rivals’ feat of Sochi, where Verstappen finished second from the back of the grid.
7 races remain in 2021 in what the closest championship battle in years has been. Both Hamilton and Verstappen have taken penalties in the hope that reliability will not affect either driver in crucial races ahead of the finale in Abu Dhabi.
Feature image credit: Formula 1