Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2016

Hamilton to take gearbox change penalty in China

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton will have to take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion suffered damage to his gearbox during the last round of the championship and Mercedes has decided to replace the gearbox for a new one. The rules require gearboxes to last for six consecutive events.

“The gearbox of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 W07 Hybrid sustained damage in Bahrain which required a physical inspection for full assessment,” the team announced on Twitter.

“Having done so, the decision has been taken to change the gearbox rather than carry any risk moving forwards.”

“It’ll be a five place grid penalty,” the team added.

Mercedes preferred to take the grid penalty at the Chinese round rather than Russia, Spain or Monaco.

“Of the next four tracks in the normal cycle, Shanghai is the best place to make the change and take the resulting grid penalty. The Shanghai International Circuit has good overtaking opportunities, so plenty of chance for Lewis Hamilton to get the hammer down!”

Hamilton started the first two rounds of the championship from pole position, but now goes into this weekend’s race knowing he will line up no higher than sixth on the grid.

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all Chinese Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

112 comments on “Hamilton to take gearbox change penalty in China”

  1. Wow, big news. I can see Nico’s smile from here.

    1. Lewis can win it from 6th. He just needs to get out of the first corner clean. That’s the only danger.

        1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
          14th April 2016, 10:48

          Hey, nice crystal ball. What else is going to happen?

          1. I didn’t mean he won’t get a clean first lap. But he won’t win starting sixth even if does. No chance, with Nico likely on pole.

          2. even if he* does.

            Nico by now has got the measure of Lewis. No one needs a crystal ball to see that (unless you’re a Lewis fan, of course).

          3. One of the ferraris will probably dnf again. That leaves one merc in the led and a ferrari in 2nd. So lewis has a chance to finish 2nd or 3rd. With safety car he can still win. There are no teams who can challenge ferrari or merc atm so the top 3 is an easy prediction.

          4. So we should skip the GP because you already know what’s going to happen… just tell us

        2. @sravan-pe: Slightly premature declaration of Nico’s getting the measure of Lewis, but I’ll grant you he appears to have one key advantage, namely the starts. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic develops as Ferrari aren’t too shabby in race trim.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        14th April 2016, 9:56

        @robbie @krichelle He won’t win from sixth: Nico and the Ferraris are too quick to catch and pass, and spend ten laps stuck behind a Williams or Toro Rosso. Whilst there are plenty of overtaking zones they are all aero-limited by the preceding corner, and given that these cars appear to be producing vast aero wakes, we can expect some overtaking difficulties.

      2. He isn’t the current World Champion Driver because he was ahead at the first corner, it was because he was ahead of everyone else at the finish line. Starting from sixth just makes winning a bit more tricky, but it isn’t impossible.

        1. I think it would take making one less stop than Nico work.

        2. @drycrust – Unless he’s in 2nd very quickly, Nico will simply drive 30 seconds up the road and turn the car down. He’ll get the choice of strategy over Hamilton as well so unless we have a safety car, technical issue or something else similar, Hamilton won’t even get close.

        3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          14th April 2016, 14:20

          It’s really hard to overtake the other Mercedes – if Lewis does it, they should probably make him WDC based on that victory alone. Seriously they should unless Nico manages another overtake during the season but they use points instead of skill.

          1. You need skill to get the points, not a one off overtake.

      3. @krichelle Mercedes won’t get a car on the podium in China. Russia would have been riskier but better for a gearbox change but Merc knows the Russian track really suits them.

        1. Gearboxes have to last 5 races in a row, they cannot “postpone” the penalty like they do with engines @peartree. The options were either to put in a new one here or have it potentially fail in one of the following 3 races.

          1. @bascb Why are you telling me that? I agree with Porsche that russia suits Mercedes better, better to suffer the 5 place there, but apparently the gearbox won’t last until there, don’t know what you didn’t understand.

    2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      14th April 2016, 13:04

      Still not as bright as Hamilton’s jewellery

    3. Somehow I feel way things are going for Hamilton, Rosberg might win championship this year.

  2. Win number 3 for Nico coming up. Will be good to see Lewis come through the field though, unless someone does a Bottos on him.

    1. sunny stivala
      14th April 2016, 6:54

      unless he still believes that he has some God given right to claim-back his racing line even with a car half way alongside him after running wide and leaving the racing door wide open.

      1. I kinda saw it like that too.

      2. :D God given right! Except God forgot to forward that right to Bottas…

        1. sunny stivala
          14th April 2016, 8:54

          Bottas was presented with a racing door wide open.

          1. And a race ruining penalty.

        2. I agree with @jureo What was Bottas thinking, it’s so clear that it hurts reading people hating on Lewis for that incident.

          1. I want to hate Lewis for that incident, but, can’t… Lewis had the racing line and although it looked like the door was wide open, if was obvious it was going to close in order to hold a decent line through the next corner…

            I do feel this is Nico’s last opportunity to get a WDC, next season is going to be much more open with the dropping of PU tokens, hopefully all 3 PU’s will be competitive…

      3. Interesting, thought i saw Bottas loose the back end of the car when he knew he was going a to fast for the corner.

        1. Possible. After all, he did get penalized. I just think LH owns a bit of it for the door opening then shutting and I think many drivers would have done the same as VB. If LH wasn’t ‘in his way’ lol maybe VB would have rounded that turn just fine even if a little hotly.

        2. I think you saw Bottas loose the back end once he realised that Lewis was going to drive across his feet and had to brake harder to try and avoid him.

      4. Thought I saw Nico breaking quite early into that first corner …

        1. A report (don’t remember which) said Nico was conservative with the speed and racing line he took to tackle turn 1, but it also said leading drivers have been even more slower than Nico was, in the past races..

    2. sunny stivala
      14th April 2016, 6:58

      Mercedes says that cracks were discovered in the gearbox housing as a result of coming together with Bottas, remember the fuss those self appointed technical experts made upon their supposedly grand discovery of Mercedes using a gearbox inside a carbon fibre outer casing?

  3. Would be interesting to see Vettel grab pole now, although Rosberg getting it and having a Ferrari next to him could be the same thing (with their better starts)

    1. I agree. I think Vettel starting from P2 is a definite threat to Mercedes. If Seb and Kimi pull a Melbourne-esque start, it would be a really interesting race to watch.

      Also, I’m actually predicting Lewis to have a better start from P6 or P7 than he does on pole. I going to guess and say he’ll make up 2 to 3 places by lap 3, and the pecking order at the end of lap 3 will be Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Hamilton. All race dreaming here .. but what a cracker of a race scenario would that be ;)

    2. @bascb, whilst everybody seems to be convinced that this weekend will see an easy pole and victory for Rosberg, it seems far too early to be certain that will be the case.

      If the weather forecast for this weekend is correct, then we should see heavy rain showers hitting the circuit throughout the final practise and qualifying sessions. In those conditions, timing your runs so they coincide with the most favourable conditions becomes critical and Rosberg might well be beaten to pole by another driver if he doesn’t hit the track at the right time.

      1. Besides Some other car might be better in the wet, as in RBR last year.

  4. Congrats to Nico Rosberg for probably winning the Chinese Grand Prix…

  5. can’t help but feel Rosberg is going to cruise to victory now :(

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th April 2016, 14:23

      let’s hope the clutch gets Nico and he starts P15 although if he has any issue we all know what he’s going to do, right? Another DNF for Lewis because of Nico. The little blondie is probably thinking about it now because he really hates racing and would do anything to avoid racing anyone.

      1. @freelittlebirds ‘Another DNF for Lewis because of Nico’ – Don’t you get sick of all that nonsense you’re shouting…?

  6. and that’s another pole and possible win for Nico !

    1. another pole?

      1. To add to his 22 other f1 career poles obviously.

    2. The penalty only precludes Hamilton from starting on pole. There is nothing that says he can’t win it.

      1. @dragon86 If he is fastest in Q3 tomorrow he will not get pole. Pole is awarded on sunday, and penalties are awarded on saturdays.

        1. @xtwl Then they need to change the rules. Set the fastest lap and you win the pole, no ifs, ands or buts. where you start is another thing entirely.

  7. Hm, starting to look like another 2014, just a bit. Yes, Vettel on row 1 should hopefully make this interesting. Guess I’d better look at my prediction again :)

    1. So do the grid penalties count in the prediction table pole position or not?

      1. Isn’t a grid penalty considered a race penalty so if Hamilton gets pole although he start 6th it will go down as a pole for Hamilton in the statistics or have I got that wrong?

        1. no the person who gets pole is the person who lines up there on sunday.
          EG Maldonado is regarded as the pole for spain 2012 (lewis ran out of fuel on his way back to pits in qualy), hamilton at abu dhabi 2012 (vettel fan out of fuel this time) or perhaps more accurate comparioson woth monte carlo 2012 where M Schumacher set the fastest time in qualifying but had a grid penalty for something at the round before and webber was the pole sitter!

  8. I guess the treat of a DNF is pretty high then as otherwise Russia seems to be a better choice to take it. It just has to be easier to overtake there than here in China. Either way, another move in favour for Rosberg and I like it. Not because I dislike Hamilton in any way but it all just spices up the championship that little bit more.

    1. Overtaking is really easy in China the DRS is so strong on the longest straight of the year then failing that theirs another drs a few 100 meters later on the start finish straight.

      Did Hamilton not have some glitches with the gearbox in practice at the Australian Grand Prix or was this just damage from the Bottas incident.

      1. Dont know why hamilton got his penalty, I can understand if it was an engineering fault then yes but it was another drivers fault for smacking him so why give the penalty, wrong if you ask me.

        1. Same with losing an engine due to a crash that is not your fault, or same as losing points in a race because someone else wiped you out, it’s part and parcel of racing.

    2. @xtwl I agree, Russia is also an even more favourable track to the Mercedes cars.

      1. Merc been 1-2 since the V6 era started in China but they have not been in Russia so they have taken more points in China so are stronger there. I cannot find overtaking stats but I feel sure China has more than Russia with that huge straight then another long straight not long after all DRS assisted. Remember 2013 when the front runners pitted earlier they easily got past those on an alternate strategy.

        1. 2013 had different cars than those of today. Coming out of that long right hander might not be so easy and the distance on the straight behind a fast Williams may make overtaking difficult. This is not the case at the last turn in Sochi.

          1. Maybe, we will know on Sunday but are there not more overtakes in China than Russia in the last 2 years with v6 engines? Merc must feel it is better to do it in China as they have all the information
            and have chosen to do it this weekend, of course they may have had no choice.

  9. I think it is safe to say Nico will be on pole whether he wins quali or not, and I think if (likely) SV pips him at the start Nico should just let him have T1 and not try to win the race in the first corner. He’ll get SV somewhere throughout the race, sooner or later. My prediction anyway.

    1. Or Nico nails his start.

  10. Well generally Nico has been good on starts this year… Its up to Ferraris to stop him then from taking 6th consecutive win… Stats are looking very good for him winning the championship this year then.

    Which brings me to Lewis… he is good when he is on the back foot, I imagine him taking pole, then starting form third row and doing an almighty start. His car will be setup for overtaking probably :P Just imagine the awesome moves he’ll be able to do, and maybe even pip Rosberg for Victory.

    We all know lewis has about 0.1s advantage over Rosberg, so any disadvantage makes the race instantly more interesting. Also he will be starting behind Ferraris(most probably). How will he cope? Pretty much gives us a race before a lap was done in China.

    So bad news for Lewis, good news for racing.

    1. “We all know lewis has about 0.1s advantage over Rosberg”

      euhhh?? Do we?

      1. based on the last 3 seasons and 2 poles in a row…yes lewis is quicker when it matters.we havent yet seen nico and lewis race eachother this season.lets see what happens then.

      2. I don’t think so :)

  11. I blame Murphy for coming up with is law. :-)

  12. Why is Vettel not taking a penalty for changing their engine, Hamilton is only changing his gearbox??

    1. Until you go past your allocation you don’t take a penalty.

    2. It says in the article, you must use the same gearbox for 6 races or get a penalty wherea with engines it is just a set amount for the year and teams can change them whenever they want.

      1. I always thought why the 6 race rule is their for gearboxes, why not just say 4 gearboxes for the year and penalty when over the allocation like the engines? Why is there not a rule on chassis allocation as well, change a chassis more than twice you get a penalty?

  13. Hm, rain on Saturday plus this? Should be a fun grid…

    1. Wow if it’s wet for quali maybe LH will be even further back and SV and NR not even on the front row. Always hope it’s dry though. Not a fan of wet running. Never have been. Don’t care that it mixes up the grid.

      1. Lewis’s last two poles in Shanghai was qualified in the rain while Rosberg started from 5th and 3rd

        1. @Ola Ray Lewis’s pole last year wasn’t qualified in the rain, but 2014 was.

      2. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Lewis has taken pole at all wet quali sessions since the start of 2014?

        Going on that he might actually start closer to Rosberg than everyone is predicting.

        1. I was wrong, Nico did take pole in Austin last year and possibly other places… but generally Lewis is very strong in wet qualifying sessions. China and Malaysia spring to mind where he and Vettel always made the most of it, a Nico did not.

          1. Lewis got owned by Rosberg for pace any time they went on the intermediates last year.

  14. Ricciardo will be up near the top in qualifying if it’s forecast to be a wet one. But he’ll struggle in the race when it comes to the long back straight with that “Renault” engine in the back. As for Hamilton, I do see him finishing on the podium on Sunday if he stays out of trouble in the first five laps, that’s if he starts from 6th. But he’ll lose once again to his teammate (Rosberg) who I think will go 6 straight wins this Sunday. If so, I think he’ll win this years title.

    1. Aren’t there way too many races and points yet to call the season Nico’s? Methinks yes. Anything can happen and will. Like one dnf for Nico. Far too soon to call anything done.

  15. Green track, starting the race on supersofts… Lewis will burn through his left front with attacking cars in front of him while Nico nurses his, so I hope Lewis is allowed the undercut. I’m not sure where Merc are with their strategy policy now, between the drivers.

    1. Yeah let’s see first where they are after wet quali, and I expect LH will be trying to make one less stop than Nico, no? I think they’ll try to help him as best they can due to the grid penalty. But if Nico is on the front row in spite of wet quali, and nails the start and T1, I’d be surprised if the team goes out of their way to see that LH leapfrogs him. All depends on how events unfold as usual.

      1. Yep pleasingly hard to predict @robbie. I suppose I can imagine the team will help Hamilton to beat the Ferraris, and he’s more likely than not still to be behind at least one of them at the first stops.

        I don’t know about the number of stops. The medium was great in Oz then rubbish in Sepang, so I suspect even the team doesn’t know at this point. Pity they put 10 cars in Q3 again – with 8 it might have been worth aiming for 4th net 9th and starting on softs or mediums, then let 1-8 all disappear from in front of him on lap 6! (assuming the rule works that way, with a penalty).

        1. The rule doesn’t work that way, what matters is participation in Q3. @lockup

          1. Ah okay thanks @mike-dee, well that’s that option closed off then.

    2. Lewis manages his tyres better in China, but Nico’s last win in China came as a result of Lewis getting a 5 place grid penalty

    3. Might he take a risk of trying to get into Q1 on a set of softs (mediums is probably too much of a stretch) and then make one stop less in the race?
      That might give him more change to get past the Ferraris, but I think his only option to catch Nico is a safety car late in the race.

      1. If it is wet in qualifying and the race is dry the whole grid will start on new tyres of their choice. If they qualify on wets I expect the top cars to start on mediums do 2 stops meaning a few laps at the end on light fuel on softs or supersofts if they can stretch their mediums long enough. Depends what the deg is like in Friday running.

  16. AMR (@aiera-music)
    14th April 2016, 9:42

    So just out of curiosity, if Lewis were to grab pole in qualifying, before his 5 grid place demotion, would that still be a successful pole prediction in the Predictions Championship, or would the successful guess be whoever gets promoted to pole, with their qualifying time? Would it go by quali or end grid order?

    1. @aiera-music It says in the rules:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/predictions/

      As far as I’m concerned the pole sitter is the driver on pole position on the final official grid issued by the FIA. How can you say “this driver started from pole position” about a guy who started from sixth place or anywhere other than first?

      1. AMR (@aiera-music)
        14th April 2016, 23:49

        Well that’s precisely why the question was asked! :) thanks for the clarification mate!

  17. Fudge Ahmed (@)
    14th April 2016, 9:57

    6th on the trot for Nico then. It’s going to be a boring race at the front apart from the first 20 odd laps as Lewis makes his way up to 2nd.

  18. Luis Rodrigues
    14th April 2016, 11:38

    I hopped to read a lot more happy comments because if the pecking order stays as expected, we have a great race on our hands, and if Rosberg manages to win in China, that will also make the championship a lot more interesting.

  19. If I were Hamilton I would have taken it in Barcelona instead, because Lewis will likely win this race on equal footing (he’s a Shanghai specialist). Why not take the penalty around a circuit where Nico generally beats him anyways?

    1. That will be Monaco or Austria…. Barcelona is a track you dont want to be on the dirty side

    2. Because the gearbox had cracks in it and had to be replaced? I don’t think it was asking for a vote, broken/damaged is broken/damaged, can’t ask it to fix itself for a more convienent opportunity to be replaced. :-P

  20. Why spend all this time messing about with the qualifying format when you can simply mix the grid up with gearbox penalties.

    1. In the future they may come up with lifestyle penalties.

    2. I hope Bernie does not read this, imagine all gearboxes have a serial number, after qualifying 4 serial numbers are drawn from a hat by Carmen Jorda in a bikini and those picked will get a 5 place penalty. Another 4 will be picked using the same format relating to serial numbers on the chassis and then the engine and so forth just to really mess things up.

  21. Good, way to get things spiced up.

    Looks like this will be an interesting race !

  22. My key points of interest this weekend:
    -Merc’s tyre strategies, particularly whether HAM’s extra set of mediums will come into play
    -Ferrari’s qualy form, race pace and reliability
    -Merc’s starts
    -Whether HAM will scythe through cleanly or be dropped into the pack by a poor start and risk dirtying his nose

    One for the stat and history boffins: (I know it’s very early doors, but) am I justified in thinking HAM’s start to this season is the worst by a defending WDC in a competitive car?

    1. Yes check Vettel 2013 the start wasn’t amazing, 9 straight wins at the end

      1. Second and third, and possibly another podium this weekend? Not hardly.

  23. How about Häkkinen in 2000? Two DNFs after two races due to no fault of his own, 24 points behind Schumacher after three races.

    There might be more examples.

  24. should be an interesting start, that is all I can say, Mercedes is fas enough to win from 5th/6th if it needs to, will be fascinating to see if Vettel is 2nd/3rd and if he can drag Rosberg

  25. Great opportunity for Ferrari! Vettel must win this one.

  26. It’s very strange how they didn’t allow Hamilton the undercut on Kimi in Bahrain. I can recall them allowing Nico it last year there, very strange indeed…..

  27. I’m not glad to this…

  28. I hope Ferrari gets a grip on their reliability issues. A Ferrari win in China would spice up the championship even more. We might even get to see Seb vs Lewis fight for the championship.

  29. We could see the absolute best from Hamilton this weekend. Or, we could see hes absolute worst. Going to be great TV

  30. With Hamilton qualifying last at China does this mean the 5 grid penalty is carried over to Sochi?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.