Fernando Alonso, Alpine, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Hamilton to start at back of grid as Mercedes replace damaged Spa engine

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will start this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid as Mercedes are planning to change his power unit.

The team fitted the third new power unit to his car at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago, bringing him up to the maximum limit of most elements he may use during the season. However his first-lap collision with Fernando Alonso caused damage to the power unit which the team intended to use at this weekend’s race.

Mercedes fitted a different engine to Hamilton’s car for last week’s race at Zandvoort. However with repairs to the Spa engine still ongoing, the team has taken the decision to fit a fresh engine for this weekend’s race at a circuit where straight-line speed is especially critical.

“We will be fitting [power unit number four] this weekend for Lewis,” a Mercedes spokesperson confirmed. “This is because although we are still working on the recovery plan for [power unit number three] that was damaged in Spa, that unit cannot be run this weekend. This will come with associated grid penalties as it’s in excess of the allocation for the season.”

Due to the number of elements Hamilton will have to change, he will trigger an automatic penalty requiring him to start the race from the back of the grid.

Mercedes go into this weekend’s round expecting a more difficult race than they had at Zandvoort, where they were in contention for victory.

“While Zandvoort suited our car, Monza is likely to be a more challenging weekend owing to the circuit characteristics,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “But we’re optimistic we’ll be in better shape than other low-downforce tracks like Spa, thanks to our learning since then, and be pushing hard to be fighting for the podium once again.”

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2022 Italian 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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20 comments on “Hamilton to start at back of grid as Mercedes replace damaged Spa engine”

  1. Unsurprising

  2. I wonder whose fault this is..

  3. Mark in Florida
    8th September 2022, 15:23

    Hamilton will be upfront in no time. Fresh engine, an aggressive strategy on tires he could finish 3-4 place before the end of the race. I think Mercedes have figured out how to extract the maximum from the chassis. They have passed Ferrari on strategy and race craft so I’m not expecting great things from them. Max is riding on a win streak right now it’ll be hard to knock him off stride, it’s doable but not likely. Perez hmmmm I think he’ll get passed by GR. If Hamilton can keep his head in it he can finish close to the front.

    1. They have passed Ferrari on strategy and race craft

      Who hasn’t?

    2. I don’t think he’ll do much. Draggy car, DRS trains…

      If he can beat the pack and get to 6th place it will be good enough.

      1. Yes, one would expect monza to be a good overtaking place given the straights, but drs trains are a big issue here, as seen in recent monza races, however bottas was impressive last year recovering from the back, which I didn’t expect given his racecraft, but obviously he also had a better car than hamilton does this time.

  4. Ah this will be a fun race then

  5. I’m always amazed by how much air the rear of the car got. The changes they made for this season seem to have made these cars more prone to vertical movement when contact occurs. Could become a safety issue in future seasons.

    1. I think that is most likely due to the extra weight of the wheels when they’re accelerated upwards in tyre to tyre contacts although the sudden loss of ground effect when the car lifts also doesn’t help either. Can’t see them reverting either the ground effect or bigger wheels though so probably more big accidents to come.

  6. That’s unfortunate for him. His error earned two grievous penalties even though it was a “racing incident.”

    Ironically it seems hamilton has become very timid at starts and has been criticized for it, especially last year vs verstappen. Here he goes for it one time and hataclaps.

    1. He would have gotten the grid penalty sooner or later anyway. I don’t see any driver finishing the season with only 3 engines. Checo and George won’t escape it either, so it will balance out again. Ferrari has it a lot worse.

      1. My understanding: Bigger wheels result into more upward momentum (more surface in contact, higher contact point). Stronger suspensions also add a bit to it, as they transport stronger instant forces at time of the touch. And heavier cars dont reduce much.

        So we will unfortunately see more of that in future.

  7. These engine penalties have to go.

    Engines, gearboxes, etc should be included in the cost cap with a standard cost applied to be works and customer teams. Taking extra engines should be no different than building a new chassis or wings.

    1. @gsimmonsonca I think it could be abused removing all limits as how do you police engines sold at a loss to the F1 team. What happens if a team blows up their last power unit in the last couple of races and they’re at the budget limit?

      Perhaps adding a budget penalty per extra engine used might be the better method such as removing 5 million off the budget for each extra engine used for example. That way you allow teams to plan for the eventuality of losing a extra engine or two in their budget but also ensures the teams aspire to keep to a low number of engines used over the season. It would also mean any penalty doesn’t cause drivers to be penalised directly when a engine is changed.

      I think you’re right though that the current rules do rather spoil some weekends.

    2. Agreed. So many of the current rules, especially those introduced for cost cutting measures can go away and be covered by the cost cap. If you can use 20 engines per year and stay within the cost cap, more power to you. Get rid of those rules and focus on being able to police the cost cap.

  8. Put all the sprint races in the last third of the season, because qualifying isn’t worth watching any more.

    Or hit the teams where it hurts – in the constructors’ points and therefore the wallet – instead of penalising drivers and ruining races for people who’ve been saving up to see their favourite drivers race.

    1. I liked spa quali, seems most drivers gave it everything even though they had penalties.

  9. I liked the system indycar used when Honda were the sole engine supplier. All teams had to pay a fixed price per race for engines. At the end of each race, Honda would get all the engines back, make any repairs needed, service them all, then they were distributed back to the teams, essentially at random, so Honda couldn’t favour one team by giving it a better engine that the rest.

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