Mercedes explain why Lewis Hamilton had to be hit with grid penalty for Turkish Grand Prix
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has outlined the details surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s 10-place grid penalty after the team decided to take a new internal combustion engine ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix.
Coming into the weekend, Mercedes had a tough decision to make with the championship on a knife edge with just seven races remaining as the battle resumes in Istanbul on Sunday.
Hamilton leads the way by two points over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, however the seven-time world champion can’t start any higher than 11th place due to the engine change.
The 36-year-old does not start from the back of the pack however because he has only changed one element of his power unit, unlike Verstappen who had to start from 20th in Russia last time out after he changed the entire power unit.
“The 10-place penalty is really the bit that most contributes to that reliability element and the performance is the internal combustion engine [ICE] and it’s better to stay 10 places than start from the back,” Shovlin told Sky Sports F1.
“Working out how easy it is to overtake is actually quite hard because you know you know in your own mind which are the tracks that are good for passing.
Lewis Hamilton penalty confirmed for Turkish Grand Prix
“Sochi has got a very long straight but we were struggling a bit with understeer, and that made it tricky.
“But this is a circuit, well, you remember Lewis in that GP2 race where he felt there’s a lot of opportunity here, and it should make for an exciting Sunday.”
Shovlin however explained why Mercedes opted only to take the one component, rather than make an array of changes, which would’ve regelated the championship leader to the back of the grid.
When asked if they still may take more new parts across the weekend, Shovlin replied: “Unlikely really, it’s a lot of fairly intrusive work when you start changing some of those elements during the race weekend.
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“So we’re pretty happy with the decision that we’ve taken so far and they’ll be likely what we stick with.
“It it does make it a bit more nervy, but you’ve got kind of got to enjoy the challenge of it and you know there were some tricky decisions in the last race in Sochi with the rain, but it’s actually quite fun.
“It’s sort of afterwards you realise that if you get these wrong, they can be quite defining moments.
“Now it’s just a case of maximising every race weekend and we’ll see what we get at the end of the year.”
Hamilton hinted on Thursday that Mercedes could take a fourth engine ahead of the race at Istanbul, with Mercedes admitting they were on the fence as to when they could take it.
In Formula One, drivers are only permitted to use three allocated engines each season, and taking a fourth engine comes with an immediate penalty.
When asked during the press conference in Turkey, Hamilton admitted he couldn’t be sure what Mercedes would decide to do.
He said: “At the moment I still have number two and three, so don’t envision us having to take one at the moment. But that could change who knows.”
The seven-time world champion holds a slim two-point lead over Verstappen heading into the race on Sunday, with Red Bull hoping to win their first title since 2013 this season.
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