Hamilton to get five-place grid penalty for gearbox change

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will take a five-place grid penalty at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver’s penalty is for a gearbox change which has become necessary ahead of the ninth round of the championship. Gearboxes are required to last for six consecutive races but Hamilton’s current gearbox was fitted at round seven in Canada, two races ago.

Austrian Grand Prix practice in pictures
Mercedes have confirmed Hamilton’s gearbox problem is not related to the incident with Sebastian Vettel during the last race, when Hamilton’s car was hit twice by the Ferrari.

Hamilton has started from pole position in five of the eight races so far this year.

It is his first penalty due to a technical problem so far this year. Hamilton had two five-place penalties for gearboxes changes in 2016. His only previous penalty this year was for driving unnecessarily slowly in front of Daniel Ricciardo in the pits during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton was asked yesterday whether he felt drivers should receive penalties for technical failures that are outside their control. He said it would be “difficult” to introduce rules which penalise the team but not the driver.

“If a driver makes a mistake the team loses points,” said Hamilton. “When [un]reliability hits, it hits you all together.”

“If you have an engine issue and you get a brand new one and you don’t take a penalty you gain an advantage on power quite often. I don’t know. Perhaps there’s a way they could do it.”

Last year Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg had a grid penalty for a gearbox change at the same race.

2017 Austrian 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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    102 comments on “Hamilton to get five-place grid penalty for gearbox change”

    1. Why no mention from the team? Apparently they’ve known this for a few days now.

      A big blow to Hamilton’s title hopes, I hope he doesn’t have a reliability run like last year……

      1. I don’t see it as a big blow, but it has definitely put him at a disadvantage for this race, but I don’t see this race as not winnable.

        1. joe pineapples
          7th July 2017, 19:14

          See what happened to the other Mercedes when he tried following the car in front too closely into turn 1 in FP1?. I think its only winnable through misfortune of those in front, unfortunately.

          1. joe pineapples
            7th July 2017, 19:17

            *through turn 1 (might have been turn 2)

      2. “reliability run like last yer”?! One DNF in 21 races. Any driver will take that at the beginning of the year. It just happened that his team mate care was perfect all year.

        1. Verstappen would kill for that reliability.

        2. he had lots of mechanical issues in quali too and penalties made him miss q3 3 times.

        3. @ianbond001 Are you joking are what ?. Hamilton had tons of issues last year, don’t even go there mate, don’t.

          1. Does that mean that he would have won the WDC without all those issues?
            How unfair would that be; it’s like a defeat in football due to a hands ball goal.

            1. Hamilton unequivocally would have won last year without the mechanical issues he had

            2. Or the bad starts

            3. Or being way off the pace in Baku and Singapore

        4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          7th July 2017, 20:21

          @ianbond001 indeed. Just look at Maldonado’s luck in 2015 for example. He retired in all 6 of the first 6 races and all was down to mechanical problems. Then had several others too that were not his fault. Now that is what bad luck and poor reliability really is. It just happened to be that Hamilton had worse luck overall than Rosberg but his car was still very reliable compared to many others.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            7th July 2017, 20:22

            Just remembered, 1 or 2 of Maldonado’s retirements were other drivers taking him out. So not just reliability.

          2. Over their time as teammates Rosberg suffered more mechanical issues than Hamilton. 2016 was kharma. Even after that Hamilton had better reliability. 1 mechanical DNF all year is great reliability.

            Anyway at this stage of the year Merc are very strong, circuit suits them and Hamilton is an awesome driver. I still have him as slight favourite to win. Before the gearbox it would be an easy win for him.

    2. Well, the race suddenly became a lot more interesting.

      1. Not at all, Hamilton might have been the quickest this weekend but won’t have the chance to show it, too hard to follow to make things interesting.

        1. This maybe one of the best tracks for an issue as Merc may have a lot of time in hand here. DRS plus natural slip streaming he will probably be in the podium spots after the start. Watched the 1999 race last nighy, overtaking was very hard but Hakkinen flew through from dead last.

        2. @Damon85

          “Not at all”

          Why? Lewis is a pure joy to watch, but this season I’m still waiting for his mighty overtakes. State of the art and the brutal ones. So far Vettel, Ricciardo and Verstappen are ahead of him in that matter. Just bring it on!

      2. Jason Blankenship
        7th July 2017, 21:02

        Agreed. Maybe it will be an interesting race since he won’t be running away with it from lap 1 on.

    3. Surprising, I expected Vettel to be the first out of the two to be penalised for a component change. Opens the door for Vettel to score big this weekend, if the Red Bulls and Kimi can be in the mix Hamilton is looking at a tough weekend.

    4. So almost certainly no 67th career pole position for Hamilton this weekend* and that means he won’t be able to equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 at Silverstone next week.

      *Unless loads of other drivers get penalties!

      1. Doesn’t still count if he gets the best time in Q3?

        1. No, poleman is he who starts from pole position on Sunday.

          1. So, for the predictions championship, no Hamilton for pole then?

            1. I wonder about this too

        2. If it did, Schumacher would have one more pole to nis name: 2012 Monaco GP, when he served a grid penalty from the previous race

        3. No, otherwise Schumacher would have 69 (Monaco 2012 where he got pole and a 5 place grid penalty).

    5. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      7th July 2017, 18:29

      Now we are going to hear Webber start his whining about grid penalties again.
      But if it was Vettel being penalized, the Grit would prefer not to comment.

      1. @omarr-pepper Haven’t gotten that impression from WEB (though to be fair I haven’t read his book)

        1. @davidnotcoulthard He had an interview this week where he said that grid penalties given for technical issues/parts changes should be stopped and replaced by point deductions for the constructors. Although I don’t see how that would work fairly for both a team that has less than 10 points and another that has over 500.

          I think maybe the size of the PU penalties could be reduced (for example 5 place for 1st component over the limit, 1 place each for the ones that follow), but I think it’s a good system in general where the driver and team get a punishment but they can fight their way back in the race where points are actually handed out.

          1. Easy. Half the constructors points scored by the car that has a technical infingement are taken away. You win that car gets 12.5 points. Seems fair as lesser teams barely get points so would likely not suffer as much as big teams who would lose a large number of points by changing limited elements.

            1. Hm. That’s not bad.

            2. so a bit like 2007?

      2. @omarr-pepper He’s not Couthard. I knew David hated Kimi but now he’s better known for his strangely patriotic mood, he’s been a strong Hamilton advocate.

    6. Rosberg took a penalty last year and if Hamilton hadn’t had more outright pace in the race would have won. If he hadn’t had his collision he still would have had 2nd. Mercedes will still pull a result out of the bag with strategy.

      1. Don’t forget it only when Rosbergs brakes started to fail that Hamilton was able to get close…

    7. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      7th July 2017, 18:30

      @keithcollantine a question. If Hamilton makes the fastest lap, who gets counted as pole in the Prediction Champìonship? Lewis or the 2nd fastest guy?

      1. @omarr-pepper If you have a look at the rules (https://www.racefans.net/predictions/) you’ll see it refers to the ‘pole sitter’, which is the person who starts the race from pole position.

        1. In case of tie, which time will be used for tie breaking? Is it the quickest Q3 time or the pole sitter’s time?

          1. @bharat141 Again, the pole sitter’s time.

      2. @omarr-pepper The second fastest guy, the one who sits on pole :)
        Learned this when Schumacher lost Pole in Monte Carlo because of grid penalty carried from Spain GP.

      3. Ok everyone time to change it from Lewis Hamilton to Vettel !

        Or will it be Bottas, hmm, stay tuned for the next episode of ….

        1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
          7th July 2017, 20:34

          @redbullf1 Let’s hope Racedude and tommy260 don’t notice it. I’m currently third!

          1. @omarr-pepper
            Yeah you’ve been on the podium for a while so I pretty well know your name lol, and also you are a Vettel fan like me,

            yep hope they are busy and don’t notice ;)

          2. This is hilarious to read! Sorry boys, I noticed! Now if only this dreadful run of single point races will end soon.

    8. Is this a precautionary change in order to mitigate the chance of a complete failure during the race? If yes, it shows the confidence Mercedes has after the Friday performance

      1. I read on another site that something had broken during the Baku race, currently not enough to not run but the amount of work the gearbox is put through during qualifying and race it’s probably not worth the risk of starting from the back of the grid or just not finishing the race. Changing the gearbox means he would start 9th if let’s say Ferrari and Bottas out qualify him but his current form in practice and his confidence suggest he has a chance for pole (easy prediction as it’s Mercedes).

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          7th July 2017, 21:45

          Apparently hitting a car twice doesn’t really do any damage… That’s obvious since Baku :-)

          What they mean by that, of course, is visible damage…

          It’d be hilarious if the multiple crashes under the safety car end up winning Vettel the championship.

          1. @freelittlebirds (thankfully?) Unlikely though based on what I remember about A1-Ring overtaking.

    9. This is arguably the best track to take a gearbox penalty for Lewis I believe anyways, compared to Spa or Monza which are later in the season still. Circuits suits Merc but hopefully from further down the grid we can see Lewis make some inroads 2 races in a row!

    10. Grid penalties for mech failures… this has to be the worst aspect of F1 these days. My proposal- make it a financial penalty that is proportionally split to the rest of the teams with the lowest place team taking the largest slice. Then if Ferrari want a new gearbox every round- they can pay for that, but in doing so they are giving money directly to their competitors.

      1. Problem with that is that if it comes down to the final few races I don’t think the top teams fighting for the championship will care about fines, Even if its distributed to other teams if putting in a new engine is going to result in them gaining a performance advantage.

        Additionally its going to hit smaller teams far more than the bigger one’s as while the top teams could afford the fine a team like Sauber likely couldn’t.

        It’s the same problem as the idea of docking constructor points, It’s going to be a much bigger hit for the smaller/mid-field teams who can’t afford the fine & can’t afford to lose the places in the constructors table (Mid-field tends to be far tighter than the fight at the top) & the prize money & other benefits that goes along with it if it drops them a few spots.

    11. Keith I have a question on our prediction if we pick HAM will we get the points for the pole or will you go by his penalty? I’m picking him for pole but I don’t wanna be screwed out of points for picking him

    12. Omg I feel dumb my phone didn’t show the other comments so pretty much if ham is 1 and vet 2 vet counts for pole?

      1. It could be Bottas you know ;)

        Dont underestimate that guy , come on !



    13. OMG. Ban Vettel!

    14. The media has just learned that the FIA are looking into Ferrari bc a story leaked they are using a psychic to damage the gear box. Mercedes commented saying they have been doing this for years now. Ferrari declined all interviews so far. Stay tuned for more

      1. The FIA should look into the possibility that Vettels two crashes into Hamilton at Baku have caused this failure. Vettel drove into Hamilton’s gearbox first.

        1. “Vettel drove into Hamilton’s gearbox first.”
          any evidence? pic or didn’t happen lol

          1. As I explained further down a rear end collision like that in Baku can cause the gearbox to be damaged as happened in 2016 between the Bahrain and Chinese GP for Hamilton. A slow rear end collision.

            1. @Amp33

              apples & oranges, 2016 was not a rear end collision

        2. You do know they don’t use the race gear boxes in practice 95% of the time? So can we come up with a better excuse bc more then likely it’s not the same one

          1. Sorry I realized it says it was the race one they changed ahead of time. I read about it on a diff sight and it wasn’t clear but either way what I said was true about teams changing boxes in P1 and 2

        3. Also when else did Lewis get hit? I only recall the one. Either way plz people do a little research. I know I can’t say for sure 100% it’s a different gear box but I’m 95% sure it is because of knowing how teams rotate the gear boxes for practice

        4. Gearbox and head-rest too, it was plot all along, that chicky little Vettel

          1. Vettel is good, head rest and gearbox. He can’t match Bottas though. He plays F1 billiards, red car into blue. Or Red car into wall.

            Seriously though my 1st thought was did the impact last race cause this but then Merc said it did not. Got to believe Merc as they also said Hamilton did not brake test. Why would Merc lie?

            Are gearbox designs changed in season like chassis and engine? If so could Merc have cocked up on a new gearbox design? Probably just bumps, kerbs, practice spins, or shear violancevof start procedure amongst 1 million other things would of caused this.

        5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          7th July 2017, 22:07

          @amp33 Jean Todt met EU officials to discuss the reduction of safety requirements for auto manufacturers especially the technology ones they’ve adding which have been saving lives. The FIA instead proposes that the EU require apologies from all drunk drivers involved in fatal and non-fatal accidents. Also drunk driving that doesn’t result in a serious accident will not incur any penalty or fine. At the end of the meeting, Todt took out a podium-sized champagne, gulped it down then smashed into the EU president’s car and then was heard screaming “I was brake tested” by the stopped vehicle – the whole incident was applauded by the audience that consisted of members of the FIA and EU. More drinking and car smashing ensued!!!

          1. They already started! An early morning crash on a public road occured in Monaco. The driver was known and obviously not in a condition to drive. Apparently he was sorry and swore never to brake test a parked car again, so no charges.

    15. Update: a man with a long beard and cape was spotted exiting the Ferrari motor home and a crystal ball was impounded by the race stewards

      1. Really? Never would have happened under Bernie. I miss those days.

    16. Loose headrest, gearbox penalty, this is not 2016 Mercedes. If these things happen, there is no other Mercedes driver being champion.

      1. “this is not 2016 Mercedes” – you’re right, it’s W08.

        “If these things happen” – this is F1- Technology on the limit, engineering on the limit and drivers also on the limit. It’s not hard to get used to it. :)

        1. Oh, a funny man.

    17. Unfortunate, still has to handle quali as normal to start as high up as possible. Likely to be anything from 6th to 8th. Hamilton and Merc needing Bottas to step up here for pole to minimise potential points deficit to Vettel.

      Long season and you would expect Vettel to face issues, from PU component usage with some of the reliability issues Ferrari have seen.

      Here is hoping for more drama for the rest of the season!

      1. Vettel has only used 2 engines but 2nd has had little isdues so with time constraints they have raced engine 1 2 more times than they wanted. It has done nearly 5000km. Merc are also on 2nd engine so about level. Vettel has used 4 turbos but they are not pkanning on upgrading this so just swap between the 4. Same with other parts. I think Ferrari have nearly all parts to use throughout the year.

    18. “when Hamilton was hit twice by the Ferrari.”

      Couldn’t resist bringing this up hey? As if it has ANYTHING to do with LH’s gearbox. /facepalm

      1. In 2016 Bottas rear ended Hamilton at the Bahrain GP in the same manner that Vettel rear ended him in Baku this year. That rear end collision in Bahrain 2016 damaged Hamilton’s gearbox which was only noticed at the next race in China. It was changed in China and produced a grid penalty. The same thing appears to have happened in Austria 2017.

        Vettel drove into the rear of Hamilton’s car in Baku and surprise surprise at the next race they notice the gearbox has been damaged. So he cannot run the six races with it and will get a penalty.

        So in my opinion it could have everything to do with the gearbox change.

        1. “In 2016 Bottas rear ended Hamilton at the Bahrain GP”

          any evidence?

        2. In 2016 Bottas rear ended Hamilton at the Bahrain GP in the same manner that Vettel rear ended him in Baku this year.

          No, not really. Bottas tee-boned him.


          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            8th July 2017, 9:00

            Yes, he certainly did not rear end him, and just to show Amp33 that the incident in Baku was nothing related to the gearbox problem, here is a link to confirm: http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/355479/hamilton-poised-for-five-place-grid-penalty/

            There was also nothing from Mercedes saying Bottas caused Hamilton’s gearbox problem in China last year, which I also doubt was the case.

      2. It’s a reasonable hypothesis. Hamilton gets rear ended, next race the gearbox is changed. It would be silly to claim it with any certainty, but it’s a perfectly plausible cause.

        1. That’s just what I was saying ” i my opinion it could” be the reason for the gearbox failure. It’s a hypothosis as you say and is worth considering.The rear of Hamilton’s car took quite a hit as seen by all the mechanics bending metal back into place during the red flag period. They are not designed to take rear collisions like that, it could have broken any number of components due to the shock of impact on it’s unprotected rear.

      3. @sjzelli Would you have preferred I hadn’t mentioned that Mercedes had said Vettel had nothing to do with it, and left people to speculate that perhaps he was responsible?

      4. @sjzelli You are absolutely right. It was beautifully written though. We can’t really argue about what is written above, explicitly, that happened, that’s the ugliness of journalism, that could have been written in a different way but passive-aggressive is the chosen way.

        1. @peartree Stating the facts plainly was the chosen way. There’s nothing ‘passive aggressive’ about the wording used above.

      5. And you also couldn’t resist commenting about that bit of the article… Funny

      6. Always great to see Vettel’s champion here to protect him.

        1. Look the bottom line here is people need to stop violating Hamiltons rear end! It leaves scars that cause Lewis issues in the future.

    19. Duh,
      This shouldmput him in the clutchs of Max. Should be a great race if he ends up being behind Max.
      And one more thing….

      Go Vettel.

      And my Max have a race not decided by mechanical.

    20. Luis de la garza
      7th July 2017, 23:53

      This is going to get interesting….will VET brake-test HAM? Will they tangle in a fierce battle? ( that’s what i want) The start will be a great thing to watch!
      Enjoy the race

    21. Mercedes have confirmed Hamilton’s gearbox problem is not related to the incident with Sebastian Vettel during the last race

      I’m cutting the end of that quote because it was redundant, also irrelevant for my next statement.
      Why mention anything? Answering a question you have not been asked can transpire ulterior motives, like you wanted to bring that up. I’m sure someone would ask the question, I would. I’m confirming that I don’t want to talk more about this issue, don’t reply to me.

      Now seriously, I rather see gearbox penalties applied to PU’s that said it’s always negative to see reliability issues that can naturally occur during a race or qualifying end up affecting the championship in subsequent events.

      1. @peartree

        don’t reply to me

        Tough, if you’re going to make the false claim that I had ulterior motives in bringing that up, I’m going to call you out on it.

        Of course people will want to know how Hamilton’s gearbox got damaged. As people saw him take contact from another car close to where his gearbox is situated, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if that was the cause. Mercedes have said it wasn’t and I chose not to ignore that. Again, I think this is all entirely reasonable.

        And the question in my previous comment on this point still stands: https://www.racefans.net/2017/07/07/hamilton-get-five-place-grid-penalty-gearbox-change/#comment-3528330

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          8th July 2017, 9:10

          Indeed, and we are seeing evidence that this is true everywhere so I don’t get why so many are still suggesting it could be related. http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/355479/hamilton-poised-for-five-place-grid-penalty/

          It is written here using different wording: “Mercedes ruled out Hamilton’s gearbox change coming as a result of contact with Ferrari rival and championship leader Sebastian Vettel in Baku.” All this as well as what you have written is more than enough for people to stop saying Vettel was partly responsible for this.

        2. @keithcollantine Not a false claim, merely a suggestion, I’m suggesting Mercedes went forwards with that clarification perhaps wanting to remind again of Vettel’s stupidity. You got it all wrong. My comment was not meant for you, it was meant for Mercedes. and as I said I would ask Merc the question, they answered it before someone made the question, again I suggest the ulterior motive is to shame Vettel just a little bit more, he did make a full of himself.

          1. @keithcollantine Reading my original comment I do understand why the misunderstanding. I cut the end of the quote because, it wasn’t Mercedes, it was your words. About the comment about your words, the wording of the article, I meant that. You say you didn’t mean to be passive aggressive, then I admit I was wrong. Watching sky revolts me, every time someone questions their neutrality on tweeter, they rather than admit a natural support for the British drivers and teams they suppress it and fail to be professional, it’s perfectly fine to be supportive as long as you don’t skew reality because you can’t let your bias out a little bit.

      2. /facepalm

    22. Watching Practice 3 from Austria on Sky Sports, what a load of drivel being talked by Croft and his commentators ….. do they make up their own stories.

    23. Technical penalties wheteher time or the most common grid penalty should be re elevaluated by the FIA and included in a sub section of the Technical Regulation. I beleive it is unfair to penalise a driver for technical failures and this penealty should be awarded to the team in the form of perhaps a 5 point penalty imposed against their constructors points. At the the minute the current system which penalises the driver is a get out of jail free card, but if this penalty is levied against their bank account which is effectively constructor points we wont see the blase’ attitude toward technical failures. Technical penalties should penalise the team not the driver.

    24. In this instance like this, I also believe that the Penalty should’ve been refered to a Technical Panel for discussion and evaluation as it is very possible that the damage to this transmission unit is as a result of the Baku incident. With visible diffuser damage is is possibly that the unit sustained just enough axial shockloads to cause damage to the rotating elements within this unit. These unit experience tremedous, axial, thrust, torsional and rotational loads and the additional axial shock loads resulting from the Ferrari contact could,ve be the cataliyst to more catastrofic damage and failures.

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