Hamilton to take five-place grid penalty in China

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2012Lewis Hamilton’s run of pole positions is almost certain to end as he is set to be penalised five places on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton revealed on Thursday the team have had to change his gearbox for this weekend’s race.

Drivers are required to use the same gearbox for five consecutive races.

The McLaren driver started the first two races of the year from pole position.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    179 comments on “Hamilton to take five-place grid penalty in China”

    1. such a silly rule, they haven’t even been on the track yet.. I can at least understand it if they qualified and then changed the gearbox, but this seems a bit stupid to me!

      1. I concur. What exactly is the point of this rule?

        1. @scuderiavincero To save money. One gearbox for five race weekends is a lot cheaper than five (or more).

          1. @keithcollantine I get that it’s to save money, but isn’t it stretching things a bit far in terms of the lifetime of the equipment?

            1. @coop, @scuderiavincero and @mclarenfanjamm – This has been a rule for years. Why is it suddenly a problem now that Hamilton is affected by it?

            2. @mclarenfanjamm Building components like this has always been a trade-off between performance, weight and durability. All this rule does is increase the importance of the latter.

              Recent experience has shown the teams are, on the whole, entirely capable of meeting that challenge. Of course they’ll want to push the envelope as far as they can and so it’s probably inevitable we’ll see a failure every now and then.

              I share the frustration that it affects a driver’s race before it’s started, and when they haven’t done anything wrong. But what’s a fairer alternative that wouldn’t put costs up?

            3. @prisoner-monkeys I understand that the rule has been around for years, the frustration isn’t that it is Hamilton, it’s at the fact that the race weekend hasn’t started yet (please do not assume I am a Hamilton fan boy!).

              I simply agree with Keith though, they drivers have done nothing wrong so it is unfair to give them the penalty, however there aren’t really any other alternatives asides from putting the costs up… Just one of those frustrations about the sport!

            4. @keithcollantine good question. I’d be interested to know how many gearboxes the teams build every season. Whether they build just enough to see both drivers through or whether they build a couple of spares in case of problems like this. If it’s the former then a failure is going to increase their costs because they have to build a replacement for later in the season, if it’s the latter then I would guess this wouldn’t increase costs, unless they suffer multiple failures.

              How long has this particular rule been in force? I know the rule about having to use the same gearbox for a whole weekend has been in force for a number of years but, rightly or wrongly, this is the first time I’ve heard of this rule. Just interested to know.

            5. This sort of rule was first used in 2005 when teams were required to use the same engine throughout a race weekend.

              Since then its been expanded to include gearboxes and now they and engines must last for multiple race weekends. Off the top of my head I can’t remember when gearboxes were added but I recall Webber getting a grid penalty at Montreal two years ago for a gearbox change:

              Webber loses second place on grid

            6. @keithcollantine – thanks for your insight :)

            7. Now here’s an interesting idea – Tom Gaymor on Twitter just suggested docking teams points in the constructors’ championship for such changes:


              Sounds good – the only problem is how many points to dock? A 10 point penalty for Red Bull last year would have been meaningless; apply the same to Williams and they fall from 9th with 5 points to 12th with -5 points.

              So perhaps the idea needs some refinement. How about making it so that a car which has an engine or gearbox change cannot score points towards the constructors’ championship in that race weekend?

            8. @keithcollantine I think that is an excellent idea, which is why it will probably never be implemented by the FIA.

              You also get the added benefit of removing the “Whitmarsh prefers Button” conspiracy theorists. Why would he purposely remove a car from scoring constructors points? ;)

            9. @keithcollantine i can see why the rule is there but its a bit absurd to be honest. I’m sure there are so many areas they can look at saving money rather than ruin a driver’s weekend due to such a decision. Yes, other drivers have suffered the same fate and the reaction is the same, absurd! How about reduce the constructors points as this is where the team make money so the more you spend the less you get kind of scenario?

            10. @prisoner-monkeys I’ve been questioning this rule for quite some time, actually. I’ve always believed that any penalty that affects a drivers race must be for an offense committed on track. Just my 2 cents here.

            11. @ScuderiaVincero, F1 is a teamsport, so this is a penalty along the lines of the pit team making an error costing the driver a penalty., in this case its the teams engineers making a gearbox that didnt last because they maybe searched for too much performance out of it. if you dont like it, go watch the 50km individual walking trials or something else, as this rule and others like it are keeping many teams in the sport. its in place to save money, and it is a simple rule to follow. the end result for the driver is of similar consequence as his gearbox or engine failing in the race – a team mistake.

            12. @keithcollantine
              Taking away only constructors’ championship points could give advantage to some drivers in the final races. For instance, Ferrari could’ve given Raikkonen a new gearbox in Brazil 2007 without risking their Constructors’ Championship.

              I don’t get why this rule would be such a problem. In Formula1 the performance of the car has and will always be a big factor on how the driver finishes – sometimes a driver gets the fastest car and wins easily, sometimes a driver retires due to engine failure.

            13. The current rule is fine. When you just had to build a gearbox for one race, excessive wear meant a retirement, now it means a 5 grid spot penalty. Isn’t this preferable for the driver you support?

            14. @keithcollantine I was thinking the very same myself a few weeks ago when the same rule affected Perez in Australia. However, I didn’t go as far to think how it would relatively affect teams. A non-scoring round would be a major deterrent for the top teams and drivers but yet again have little impact on those at the back.

            15. The rule have been criticized just last GP by people finding Kimi’s penalty unfair and yet Prisoner Monkeys couldn’t help himself making a comment that makes him seem like he hit his head on the wall and suffering from amnesia.

            16. @solo – I don’t recall a single person complaining about Raikkonen’s gearbox change. And no, I don’t have amnesia. I think I’d remember if I did.

            17. It helps to make things more relevant to road technology. Gear boxes arent too problematic nowadays with modern built cars, however, if those at the pinicle of motorsport can trial components, materials and oils which make extremely high performance gearboxes last longer, then it will eventually be filtered downward.

              In the long run it’ll make breakdowns less frequent, saving money for the user, saving companies to manufacture parts (not all of which get used at time).

            18. @andrewtanner do you not think it would have a higher detrimental effect to the midfield teams? Over the past few years, the midfield teams have been more tightly packed than the leading teams. A non-scoring round where a few teams around them pick up points could be the difference between 5th place and 7th, 8th, or 9th place at the end of the season.

            19. I think docking driver points is a BAD idea. The reason being that you can make up a grid penalty… Take Hamilton for example, he has been fastest on Saturday, so lets say he poles and ends up 6th. He could still easily win the race and earn 25 points which would put him at a total of what, 55 points on the year. If you dock 10 points and he wins he’s at 45 points on the year. This is far more unfair and harsh than a grid penalty. Like the drivers always say – you don’t earn points on Saturday, so a grid penalty is way softer than a points penalty.

              I think docking or withholding Constructors points is a better idea but too murky and confusing to implement. The grid penalty is fine. The driver’s weekend is not ruined and they still have a chance to earn the MAXIMUM points which is what really counts. Also dkpioe already said, it is very much a team sport and drivers are dependent on their teams and cars. If they weren’t, they’d still allow them to switch cars mid-race.

            20. I think that docking points for engine and gearbox changes is straying onto dangerous ground. It would be very controversial, especially if it cost someone a championship. The title could easily be decided by a team being forced to change its gearbox ahead of the final race.

              Personally, I think the grid penalty system works just fine. If it needs tweaking, then perhaps Formula 1 could look to Indycar for inspiration. Indycar have a similar system where drivers take grid penalties for changing their engines before that engine has completed a certain amount of mileage. Formula 1 could adopt a system where engine and gearbox changes are acceptable after they have completed a certain distance.

              I don’t get why this rule would be such a problem.

              It’s only a problem because Lewis Hamilton is the one being penalised. I myself don’t recall any protests from fans when Perez and Raikkonen changed their gearboxes in Australia and Malaysia.

            21. @mclarenfanjamm It depends which way you look at it. It would affect the midfield badly, yep. Things are probably tighter there than they are at the top but without a championship at stake the light is taken away from them I guess.

          2. hello keith i just read this article on autosport aswell, it says in their’s that it only happened in the last 48hrs any ideas how this could be?

            1. The gearboxes (and engines) are fitted with FIA seals that can only be removed by the teams at certain times for inspection. It could be that they’ve just done that and discovered a problem.

              The seals are there to ensure compliance with the rules on not changing engines or gearboxes.

            2. There’s also the possibility that they dropped it transporting it to China.

          3. @keithcollantine why don’t they do it like with the engines? like certain amout of gearboxes during the year and not just 1 gearbox in consecutive races ?

            1. ^^^^^ this is the best solution I’ve heard. You get 4 gearboxes (5 races per gearbox) a year to use however you want. If one of them goes 15 races and the others only go one race, so be it. When you use the 5th gearbox you get the penalty.

            2. artificial racer
              12th April 2012, 16:38

              Yeah, this. It would allow for a bit of variance without immediately sabotaging a driver’s race.

            3. I meant 17, not 15

            4. I too would like that rule better @fer-no65. I actually recall talking about something like that last weekend in respect to the penalty for Kimi (though PM clearly won’t remember being part of that discussion ;)

              I don’t see why not, it makes it still important to have a reliable gearbox, but if you have a misfortune once in the season you won’t automatically have to suffer, only if it keeps happening.

          4. yes but why not give the possibility of changing between the race GPs not sessions or quallys, gearboxes give alot of work to repair its easier to replace, still takes time but its not that bad. The big problem with gearboxes is that you cant simply turn down some buttons and make it work less hard, so its a part of the car that needs to be throughly tested, that is difficult when you design a brand new one every year.

            1. @xeroxpt, Ferrari and other road cars can” turn down the gearbox” or slow the shift speed and reduce rpm for less stress.

          5. @keith collantine, care to speculate on how Webbers penalty affected the 2010 championship results? And I would like to go on record as supporting an annual ration of gear-boxes, like engines.

        2. It’s suppose to impose a budget constraint on teams forcing them to use their expensive GB for at least 5 GPs. Personally, like @coop, I think it’s silly.

          1. I’m actually thinking of the outcry with general public if Lewis manages best time (not an uncertainty by far) only for commentators to say he is going to be dropped to 6th (has he cheated ? what happened ? -> Would say a F1 newcommer). Nearly happened last race with Raikkonen. It makes me think of all insane rules in Nascar I had to understand before making the slightest sense of the sport when I was in the US.

            1. if hamilton hadnt changed his gearbox, it may well have failed in the next race. 5 positions loss at the start is much better then a dnf dont you think? and he will have an advantage of a new gearbox over other drivers which might aid he into getting back into p1 in the race.

          2. Same here. Should be a rule that allows teams to change undamaged gearboxes & engines in-between races without suffering some kind of punishment.

            1. @younger-hamii – If you allow that, teams will simply introduce fresh engines and gearboxes at every race, driving costs up.

              Although I do believe teams still get a “joker” with their engines – one engine change per season without penalty.

            2. Perhaps a rule similar to the one enforced on engines. e.g. Drivers can only use four or maybe five gearboxes per season.

        3. It’s a nonsense. The team should be striped of some points in the constructors standing. That would be fair. To punish the driver because of mechanical fault is stupid. Plain and simple.

          1. It is punishing the car not the driver, The McLaren is still more than capable of qualifying on provisional pole having a five place grid penalty and coming through to win the race, in which case it is no penalty at all!

            Giving the teams constructors points penalties doesn’t enable them to claw those points back through outstanding performance. As an example, Kimi in Malaysia Qualified 5th had his 5 place grid penalty and still finished in 5th.

            1. Interesting logic. Don’t you think Kimi could’ve finished better than 5th if he hadn’t received the penalty?

            2. a driver is also punished if his engine or gearbox blows up in the race. this is similar, just instead of during a race, it is during the course of 5 races that it is meant to last, at least he doesnt get disqualified from a race. this rule is needed to bring costs down, and so teams dont have qualifying engines and gearboxes.

            3. @hotbottoms – yes I think potentially Kimi could have finished better than 5th, but his car had the advantage of a new gearbox, which whilst not being a perceived performance advantage could potentially give him a reliability advantage in future. I wouldn’t say he had an outstanding race, good race yes, and he and the team probably got the points they deserved considering he had a gearbox change.

              My point is really, that it is fairest surely for HIS car to receive the penalty, and the penalty is not so harsh that he or the team cannot claw something back from the race.

              Also, no-one has taken into consideration gearboxes that require replacing due to accident damage, which IS driver related not team related.

            4. When a car is damaged in an incident and it stops before the finish new parts can be used for the next race, including a new Gearbox (but engines do go from their engine budget for that year).
              But then you do not get points for finishing that race.

              Alternatively you take the car to the finish but face a penalty if you take a new gearbox for the next event. Sounds reasonable to me, although I think maybe something like they do with the engines – having a fixed amount per year – could work better.

      2. I understand the frustration at a driver getting penalised for some that isn’t really his fault, but I think grid penalties are the right option. The driver is the focus but he’s still part of a team – if a driver gets a penalty in a race for, say, speeding in the pit land and loses places, the team have lost constructor points despite it not being their fault. To me it’s the same thing and they shouldn’t be separated.

        If a car is ineligible for constructors points, then if they finish in the points they’re taking points away from whoever they finish ahead of, which isn’t fair on the team that have managed to build a reliable car…

        1. Its a penalty for china but for the next race his gearbox is much newer than those around him which much be some kind of advantage no?

          1. Unless their gearbox develops a problem I don’t think there’s any real advantage. A functioning gearbox doesn’t have much of a range of performance. I’d be surprised if a gearbox on its fifth race and one on its first have any noticeable difference.

            1. yes but there is surely a fundamental reliability advantage no?

            2. @asanator
              Not really.
              There can still be errors from production on components that make it to the car, like Vettel’s gearbox in Brazil last year.
              The wear on a gearbox after two races wont be very bad, and just about all manufacturing errors would by then have been noticed.
              So I don’t think the reliability will be greatly improved in the first race of running the new gearbox.
              After 2-3 races when the other’s gearboxes are on their last miles, he will then have a newer gearbox with plenty of life left in, and by then it will probably be an advantage.

            3. Even if there is a reliability advantage, the view is that the other driver has been hindered by the 5-place penalty.

      3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        12th April 2012, 15:43

        shouldn’t be the rule as the negines, when teams can exchange them as much as they want but having a limit for the whole year? Lewis was doing it well, now we can see him battle… or make silly mistakes when coming into attack

      4. Im a big Mclaren fan, but the comment about somthing fishy in the Mclaren camp, makes you wonder. Closer to the weekend, no problems with the gearbox at last race, now knowing that it might rain, so why not let the Mclaren driver whos better in changeable conditions get the upper hand, and the fast one who might have some of his bad luck, fight a little bit further back for the rest of the points up for grabs. Hamilton just needs to work better with his tyres, and pray his badluck away, and he will be unstopable. Clearly the fastest guy, just not the whole package in terms of managing every aspect of the car in a race, but when he does……………..!

    2. Well, at least we now know that qualifying in 2012 is not going to be dominated by one driver.

      1. Well done, looking at the positives @prisoner-monkeys!. Button, Sc humacher, Grosjean or Raikkonen for pole? Or can Vettel do it?

        1. @bosyber – My money is on Button or Schumacher. Rosberg, if he remembers that he’s supposed to be driving the car in Q3 and not mowing the lawn. Grosjean only if everyone else is drunk.

          1. And Grosjean’s teammate @prisoner-monkeys? Another mishap earlier on Saturday? It could happen, I agree, and also that those two seem the main candidates with HAM out of it.

            1. I’m pretty sure thats what @prisoner-monkeys was referring to with the “If everyone else is drunk” part. Raikonnen, sponsored by Smirnoff.

            2. @bosyber – At a pinch, I want to say the Lotus is between Mercedes and Red Bull in qualfying. But it’s really difficult to judge.

        2. I think Lewis will make the best time and Button will inherit his pole. My question to @keithcollantine is: what about Prediction Championship? It’s down to the best time or “official” grid?

          1. @jcost See answer below…

            1. @keithcollantine Do the official stats work in the same way? So if it’s another front row lock-out with Lewis ahead will it officially be counted as Jenson’s first Mclaren pole position?

              On the penalty itself, I can see the major problem for Hamilton being that he will now be subject to Mclaren’s “first driver pits first (oh, but only when Jenson is the first driver)” policy.

        3. Isn’t rain expected? Surely that will throw the grid around a bit. I expect a suprise pole sitter, like a Sauber/Williams or such.

          1. or Ferrari

    3. What a shame, I was hoping for a win for Lewis this weekend.

      1. Lewis has a pretty poor record at circuits where he won the previous race held there. Best finish of 4th I believe. I too was hoping for a win to break this pattern but I think he should be happy with another podium finish here if he achieves it.

        1. This is a very interesting fact – and Wikipedia confirms it. Didn’t know this before.

        2. And for the last 3 years the winner in China hasn’t won the championship.

          1. Ooh, that’s a nice stat too. Let’s hope Vettel wins then! ;)

      2. I think this penalty does not mean LH can’t win the race.

    4. That’s bad. Now all he has to do is keep his head up and do his best. A good start from third row can put in the frame for top spot.

      1. Remember what Webber did from much further back last year.

    5. Wasn’t there a similar rule in 2011? Don’t remember a top driver being penalised for this. What’s wrong with these ‘new’ gearboxes?

      1. There were a few gearbox penalties too IIRC. Just that the top drivers were lucky that they didn’t really get them last year.

    6. Well pole position hasn’t been working out for him, he may just win it from the 3rd row :)

    7. Lewis Hamilton’s run of pole positions is almost certain to end

      @keithcollantine surely you mean “certain” to end? Even if he is the fastest man in Q3, he won’t be called the pole position man – that will be whoever was 2nd quickest in Q3.

      1. @raymondu999 – Unless Hamilton sets the fastest time, and then everyone in front of him has to change their gearbox. Unlikely, yes, but not outside the realm of possibility.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys Exactly.

          Or it could be a penalty for disobeying yellow flags or impeding – we’ve seen multiple grid penalties in qualifying before:

          2009 Japanese Grand Prix grid

          1. I won’t bet on it in the F1F championship though.

          2. @keithcollantine – Or the stewards decide that they’ve been really hard on Hamilton in the past, and he’s managed to behave himself so far this year, so as a reward for good behavior, he won’t have to take the five-place … no, wait. I can’t say that with a straight face.

      2. I thought he will get pole position in the statistics, but not on the grid – when he’s the fastest of course.

    8. Indeed. i’m gutted!

    9. This is clearly a conspiracy to help Jenson. I bet the gearbox didn’t even need changing, that dastardly Martin Whitmarsh just stole into the garage one night and kicked it repeatedly until they had no other choice, since clearly everything he does is with the sole purpose of helping Jenson to the detriment of the rest of the team.

      1. @bendana I’m sure you’re joking…

        1. since I’m sitting here giggling at the mental image of Martin Whitmarsh with a Dick Dastardly moustache, you can be pretty sure of that @keithcollantine. :)

        2. No, he’s Bendanarama :))

        3. Still, it’s a great mental image. Martin standing there thrashing away with his size nines until the carbon fibre gearbox is so terminally damaged that it can’t be used in the race. If we see him walking with a limp at Shanghai then I’m with @bendana

      2. COTD for sarcasm alone :)

      3. Lol…I think that if MW could kick a carbon fibre transmission to death, perhaps they should start making their gearboxes out of the same thing his footwear is made.

        1. New statement from Mclaren: “We are due to release a new brand of footwear with superior material compounds and class-leading hardness for superior gearbox-breaking efficiency.”

          1. Lol…FOOTGEAR…for the discerning saboteur…TV ads and Billboards to feature none other than Jenson Button…

    10. Seems this year will be testing Hamilton’s patience and consistency then! He should now target a 3rd row start spot, I guess and hope it gets better from there on.

      1. I actually hope this situation revives the Agressiv (but not reckless) Hamilton who has been sleeping in the previous races.

        1. That’s a confidence thing, I don’t think he can just switch it on and off. Last season could still be playing on his mind. As I’ve said elsewhere, a podium is now a much better result than if he had started from pole.

          With the forecast of rain, anything could happen though, if it rains consistantly for the whole race, he could still win. During the heavy rain in Malaysia he was the fastest pilot on track.

      2. Webber started 18th last year and finished 3rd. Five grid place place penalty is really nothing to get in a panic over.

        1. Five grid place penalty means a lot if you want to fight for the victory.

    11. On a positive note, luckily, he’s still not likely to be anywhere near Felipe.

      1. You never know. Felipe might qualify 6th by some twist of fate and then we would have a race on our hands. Up till the first corner at least.

        1. That far ? :D

    12. I really wish there was a hibernation button in our lives so i can push it right now and not have to wait for the action in China to start!

      1. LH is wishing for a hibernating Button.

        1. Very good, I like that

        2. Classic! :)

    13. One question @keithcollantine . In terms of the predictions, suppose Lewis takes pole, is it still counted for the predictions or not considering the penalty is known beforehand and for any other case where the Pole driver is due for a penalty.

      1. The prediction championship rules say “You get two points for correctly guessing the pole-sitter”.
        So yes, it would be foolish to vote for Lewis as the only way he is going to be on pole is if everyone else gets a penalty too.

        1. You know when you are an F1Fanatic when we not only analyse the minor points in the F1 rules but also the nitty gritty of the rules in a predictions championship!

          I hope there is no grey areas in there Keith, there will be hell to pay!

        2. @mahavirshah As Sumedh correctly points out, you need to predict the person who starts the race from pole position. The same goes for the pole position time tie-breaker.

          @welshtom Indeed!

          1. Right , Thanks Sumedh and @keithcollantine. With all these rule interpretations we have these days I sort of missed the point of pole-sitter :) !!

    14. If Hamilton sets the fastest lap time in qualifying and is then dropped 5 positions, will it go down on the records that it was a Hamilton pole position?

      1. @095cal I look at it this way: Who started the 2005 Italian Grand Prix from pole position? Juan Pablo Montoya.

        Yes, Kimi Raikkonen would have been on pole position had he not had a ten-place penalty for an engine change. But that doesn’t make him the pole sitter.

        He may have been the rightful pole sitter, but it doesn’t change the fact that he started 11th and Montoya started first.

        1. Ok cheers, such a shame though :(

        2. Also if a driver goes into qualifying knowing they have a penalty they might approach it differently. Back in the days when they had to start the race with the fuel load they finished Q3 with then they could put less fuel in to cancel out the grid penalty. Kind of confuses things a bit so I like Keith’s definition.

          1. Hungary 07 another example of that. In refuelling days it penalties must of been nightmare! Heavy fuel your nowhere, light fuel, could get stuck in midfield

        3. @keithcollantine Interesting. I understand that’s your interpretation – but do you know if the official interpretation is the same? I.e. if Hamilton sets the fastest time in qualifying – will it not be counted towards his career pole position stats?

          Great chance for Button to take his first McLaren pole if so!

          1. @bpacman If he’s fastest in qualifying but starts sixth because of his penalty I don’t see how that could possibly could count as him having started from pole position.

            But when you say “official interpretation” – according to who?

            1. @keithcollatine Good question. I had assumed that F1 would have some sort of official statician who would have the last say on these issues (perhaps the equivalent of the dubious goals panel in the Premier League) but perhaps not…

              Say Hamilton does qualify fastest on Saturday, it seems to me that there could be a case for counting it as a pole position towards his statistics. After all, he would have set the “pole” time which is generally considered something of an achievement in its own right (you often hear people referring to Senna’s 65 pole positions as an indication of his one lap pace – similarly, in other series e.g. GP2, you gain points for the fastest time in qualifying). I guess what I’m trying to say is that being on pole position when the race starts is separate in my head to achieving pole position in qualifying. In my opinion, a drivers’ stats for pole position should reflect the number of times they have been the fastest qualifier. As such, to use your example above, I would count Kimi as having achieved pole posiiton at the 2005 Italian Grand Prix.

              I guess it just goes to show that without a uniform or official determinant, this is quite open to interpretation!

            2. Sorry I didn’t mean to misspell your name there @keithcollantine !

            3. I didn’t think there were multiple official interpretations. The one that tracks statistics.

          2. Who says the fastest qualifier is the same thing as the pole sitter? and anyway, arent Pole positions a count of how many times you start on pole, as opposed to how many times you qualify fastest?

    15. I am not going to repeat what others already have said about whitmarsh and Lewis. But what I would question is that why it is always Hamilton at McLaren who gets bad luck, he said that the damage to the gearbox was caused in the past 48 hours. I do not see this happening to Button. I think there is some way of trying to punish Lewis in McLaren at the moment.

      1. I think there is some way of trying to punish Lewis in McLaren at the moment.

        Excellent theory.

        It is, however, let down by one tiny little flaw:

        Nobody at McLaren has any motive for sabotaging Hamilton.

        1. How do you know that they haven’t? I did not say that they have but I said that those things happen to Hamilton, he didn’t damage it in the race, but it is damaged by the McLaren crew. And I think that it is known that whitmarsh and Hamilton aren’t really getting well on with each other.

          1. Just because the damage happened in the past 48 hours, does NOT mean it was deliberately sabotaged. The teams have been flying bits to China, no? Could have been damaged in transport.

          2. why it is always Hamilton at McLaren who gets bad luck

            After two race, really? In my understanding always does not equal two race. If you are referring to a longer periond, then you should watch the 2010 & 2011 season again, you can’t say only Lewis had bad luck, Jenson had a fair share too, but I don’t think there was anyone who said ‘McLaren is sabotaging Button’, or ‘Why this is always happening to Button’.

            1. Or Webber at every team he has ever been in ?

        2. well i disagree.you can predict something is going to go wrong for lewis before each race,and most of the time youll be right.
          dodgy strategies,dodgy pitstops,faulty clutch at start and now a gearbox problem.
          its nonstop,and yet ppl say theres nothing dodgy going on.
          all these things dont keep happening by accident,someone makes them happen.this makes sure button goes ahead of lewis on points again,without seriously hurting hamiltons race,coz he should still get some good points.
          we will see alot more dodgy things like this happen to lewis this season,its guaranteed.

      2. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
        12th April 2012, 10:45

        In all honest I think it comes down to the fact that Lewis is a much more agressive driver than Jenson is and therefore puts more wear and tear on the components and tires then Jenson does, therefore it is more likely that a component on Lewis’ car will be the one that breaks. It’s not about luck or sabotage it comes down to how carefully each driver treats his car.

        1. nonsense.it what races has lewis been more agressive than jenson this season?
          its this wear and tear,more aggressive stuff is so over exaggerated.

        2. Maybe if they still had clutch pedals and a gear shifter I might buy the argument that a more aggressive driver might wear out his tranny quicker…but nowadays? I don’t think so…a tranny that has been built to last 5 F1 races is a damn strong unit and the team(s) have every opportunity to build theirs to last at least that long and account for a drivers style, if that is a factor at all…personally I think it is splitting hairs to say JB is more careful with the equipment, presumably because of his reputation for a smoother driving style, but that said the teams have to assume that come race day both their drivers are going to be going 10/10ths and simply have to trust that the equipment will be there for them. They can’t be doddling around treating the equipment like it is made of glass. It’s their job on Sunday to leave nothing on the track. To give it all up in every effort to win the race. That’s what they are paid for. The crew is paid to give them bulletproof equipment so the drivers can trust it and go out and give it their all with confidence.

          1. Can we please not call them trannys?

            The only way I can see a driver having an affect is if he spends some time short-shifting. Most drivers don’t find themselves in a position comfortable enough to cosset the car that much though as far as I know.

      3. And I didn’t see Lewis’ wheel not being put on properly at Silverstone last year, or his hydraulics failing at the Nurburgring – I wonder what Jenson had done that he was being punished for then? Maybe he was about to spill the beans on the moon landings…

        1. exactly… this is so pathetic!!! when other drivers get a penalty for gearbox-change, nobody is really bothered by it, BUT when its the all-mighty Hamilton, its declared a dumb rule and a conspiracy against ´Lewis…… i despise all these childish fan-girling… and unsurprisingly its always because of LH…. to be honest I love this site and I appreciate all the work Keith puts in it but from now on I am going to refrain from reading the comments…

          1. The headline made me think of the still prevalent in parts of the USA transgression “driving whilst black” however the story explains ” just another racing incident”, stuff happens.

    16. The rule is not fair. I completely understand the argument of cost reduction, but instead of making a gearbox last 5 races simply do the same like with the engines: have the teams use a maximum of 4 gearboxes a year and when they have to use a 5th at the end of the year, then give them a penalty. Same costs, much more honest towards the drivers.

      1. The rule is not fair.

        Tell that to Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen.

        1. My opinion that it isn’t fair, is not biased. It was also unfair for those 2, or for everybody else who had to give up places b/c the gearbox broke down or was set to break down. Did you even try to read my complete post and listen to my argument instead of just focussing on that first sentence?

          1. It was also unfair for those 2, or for everybody else who had to give up places b/c the gearbox broke down or was set to break down.

            Then why weren’t you calling for change when Perez and Raikkonen were hit with penalties? Why has it only become a big issue when it affects Lewis Hamilton?

            1. What are you accusing me from? Fanboyism? That I didn’t complained when Perez or Raikkonen had the same problem does not mean I found it fair for them.
              It’s like going to a groassary store and buying some oranges with you saying “why haven’t I see you buy oranges before?”.

            2. Didn’t Perez and Raikkonen change theirs during a race weekend? I knew that rule existed but not that the gearboxes had to last 5 races and if they were changed between race weekends that you’d still get a penalty. Stop jumping down people’s throats.

            3. No @mclarenfanjamm, at least Kimi had it from the last race, they knew about it in the run-up to the race, just like its now for Hamilton.
              Perez did have a gearbox issue during qualifying that led them to have to use a new one.

    17. I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but a one-free-change rule could be imposed as it happened with the engines back in 2008 !

      1. Would be more sensible to do the same they do with engines then, have a limit of say 4 GBs per year and a penalty for using a 5th.

        1. I think that’s a fairer way of doing things.

    18. @prisoner-monkeys How can you be so sure? Maybe there’s some mechanic that didn’t get a Christmas card from Ham or something.

      1. This was supposed to be a reply to

        Nobody at McLaren has any motive for sabotaging Hamilton.

    19. Given RedBulls current quali pace this may set up a tangle with Vettel and Hamilton… Interesting!
      Also, Schumi has to be thinking that this is his big chance for the first victory of his return.. That’s if Merc can sort out their tyre wear issues..
      I for one am very excited :)

    20. Got me thinking about podium finishes after a penalty, been a few,
      2006 Australia-Ralf Schumacher 3rd drive through
      2006 Hungary-Jenson Button 1st 10 place penalty
      2008 Malaysia-Heikki Kovalainen 3rd 5 place penalty
      2008 Belgium-Lewis Hamilton “3rd” That ridiculous penalty
      2008 Singapore-Rosberg 2nd 10 second Stop/go
      2009 Australia-Trulli 3rd Excluded from Quali
      2009 Germany-Webber 1st Drive through penalty (harsh)
      2010 Europe-Hamilton & Button 2nd & 3rd Drive through 5 sec time panalty
      2010 Hungary-Vettel 3rd Drive through
      2011 Canada-Button 1st Drive through

    21. The gearbox penalty was introduced in 2008. I did I search and found this page on the official F1 site:

      Mindful of the massive cost of these ultra high-tech powertrains, the FIA introduced new regulations in 2005 limiting each car to one engine per two Grand Prix weekends, with 10-place grid penalties for those breaking the rule. From 2008, a similar policy was applied to gearboxes, each having to last four race weekends. 2009 saw the introduction of even more stringent engine rules, with drivers limited to eight engines per season. On top of these measures, a freeze on engine development imposed at the end of the 2006 season means teams are unable to alter the fundamentals of their engines’ design.


    22. As I understand it the damage to the gearbox was identified 48 hours ago, it doesn’t mean the damage was done 48 hours ago. The damage could have been done in during the last race and only noticed recently – might even explain the mysterious drop off in Hamilton’s pace during the last race ?
      I for one would rather see Lewis start from the 3rd or 4th row with a new gearbox than pole and watch it go bang whilst leading the race.

      1. Could of overtorqued in one of the long pitstops in Malaysia?

      2. No it has not been done in the race, Hamilton is quoted by autosport: ”Hamilton said the damage to the gearbox was only picked up in last 48 hours.”

        1. “Picked up” can equally mean “discovered” and “acquired” in English. Hamilton’s statement is ambiguous.

        2. There are several meanings of the phrasal verb ‘to pick up’ (like with all phrasal verbs – my favourite ways of torturing my ESL students!), and being in the passive here without an identified agent does add to the ambiguity. On its own this sentence could mean that the damage was picked up in the sense of ‘accrued’ by the gearbox, however I think it clearly means that the damage was picked up in the sense of ‘noticed’ by the team.

        3. Akin,
          As others have said already it’s a safe bet to suggest what Hamilton meant by ‘picked up’ was that it was discovered within 48 hours. Whether it was ‘picked up’ just after Malaysia or just before China makes no difference – the penalty still applies.

    23. Gutted about this but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.. I’m hoping for 3rd!

    24. If Hamilton ends up with the fastest time in qualifying, but then gets relegated to 6th…
      if the the HRTs are not within 107% of Hamilton’s time, but are within 107% of the 2nd fastest driver, would they qualify?
      Hamilton’s time would be the fastest, but not technically the ‘pole time’.
      Probably a pointless question, but any opinions?

      1. Its from the Q1 time, so as long as the teams are within 107% of the Q1 time it doesn’t matter what is set for pole :)

        1. Exactly. Hamilton’s penalty will only be applied from his final qualifying position. So the only way he will receive a five-place penalty in Q1 is if he finishes seventeenth.

    25. Probably a good thing for Lewis. His recent record of converting pole position to win hasn’t been that great. But China has been a good track for Lewis, so in the end with a decent car / DRS passing you may see him on the podium. As long as he doesn’t get stuck behind a Mercedes on that long straight.

      1. Different situation to Monza last year. Merc had gone for high top speed (as is the norm around Monza) but Hamilton had been geared shorter to be able to fight Vettel for the lead (better acceleration at expense of top speed) so when he was trying to get past Schumacher, he was bouncing off the limiter with DRS but only matching Schumacher’s speed. In China, Merc will be running higher downforce so their top speed will be minimally higher than McLaren’s (see Malaysia and Australia speed traps for evidence) and unless the Merc is less than 1s behind the car in front of them, they won’t get their “Super DRS” benefit. I think last year Hamilton did manage to sail past Schumacher with DRS quite easily.

    26. how its work with championship prediction on pole position over here on f1f?..when hamilton take pole it counts as a pole or its pole position holder after penalty?

      1. As mentioned above it is pole position after all penalties are applied. Pole sitter is the driver who is on pole come Sunday afternoon, not necessarily who was the fastest in Q3.


      Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

      1. Brilliant!

    28. Im a big Mclaren fan, but the comment about somthing fishy in the Mclaren camp, makes you wonder. Closer to the weekend, no problems with the gearbox at last race, now knowing that it might rain, so why not let the Mclaren driver whos better in changeable conditions get the upper hand, and the fast one who might have some of his bad luck, fight a little bit further back for the rest of the points up for grabs. Hamilton just needs to work better with his tyres, and pray his badluck away, and he will be unstopable. Clearly the fastest guy, just not the whole package in terms of managing every aspect of the car in a race, but when he does……………..!

    29. So, it looks like its not clear enough that the FIA is not going to ban the Mercedes improved DRS functioning ducting. Not unexpected, but it seems there’s clarity now. Lets wait and see how long it will be before other teams test or even race their versions.
      As these things go, I would not even be really surprised to see this solution being written out of the rules for next year.

      Adam cooper has an interesting observation that is possibly more important for F1 in the long run though:

      Intriguingly the stewards added that the system had already been approved by the FIA whereas in the past approvals given by Charlie Whiting and/or technical delegate Jo Bauer have subsequently been overruled.

      As he writes that could well become very significant, as it would mean teams would then have a more reliable way of getting things cleared up front.

      1. Yeah no surprise…should be very interesting to see how things evolve now. I still say that if I’m the competing teams I’m looking to influence other things besides the front wing, like the rear diffuser…something that helps the car for the majority of all laps on race day, not just on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday only on the minority of those laps when within a second of the car in front at the DRS zone.

    30. I think this will be the acid test or Lewis after his troubles last year. He just needs to keep his cool…

      1. I hope it won’t be 2011 Lewis in race if he end up in midfield, when he was in midfield in 2010, he provided some decent entertainment.

    31. “almost certain” ?? sounds 100% certain to me….

    32. Getting pole and starting from pole are two different things.
      If Hamilton were to get the pole position and take the penalty, Button starting from Pole can’t claim it as his first pole for Mclaren or their 150th pole.
      So I believe the article may be somewhat flawed. As records will still show the pole lap of who ever sets the fastest time.
      The time is not erased, the car is only moved back.

      Anyway it may well be that Button is on pole himself.

    33. Let’s see now if Button steps up to the plate. I’m not so sure..

      1. What?

        Jenson has qualified second behind Lewis in both races so far, why should it be any different now Lewis has a grid drop penalty?

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