Mercedes changes Lewis Hamilton’s engine triggering a grid penalty ahead of Sunday’s race in Turkey.
The fitting of the fourth internal combustion engine (ICE) on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W12 exceeds the ICEs allocations allowed by the FIA, which has resulted in a 10-place grid penalty for the seven-time Formula One world champion.
“The indications from free practice are that it’s going to be quite a challenge for Lewis to overtake on track, but we’re looking at all the options available to us in strategy and on car setup to allow us to fight back on Sunday,” said Track Engineering Director at Mercedes Andrew Shovlin.
Hamilton got off to a solid start setting the fastest lap times in both Friday’s sessions this morning. He was the quickest in FP1, clocking a 1:24.178 time, improving to 1:23.804 to close the second free practice setting a new track record.
“Coming into this weekend, I didn’t know what to expect when we went out there, but the level of grip was intense, it was awesome,” he stated.
Furthermore, the world champion commented: “We started off with a really great setup in FP1. We made some changes between the sessions and combined with track evolution, the car didn’t feel quite as good, but we made some important learnings, for sure. We’re fairly close to the maximum we can extract from the package, but we always find something overnight, so we’ll be working hard to take our pace into tomorrow.”
Leclerc also ended FP1 inside the top three, and despite the encouraging results, he remained cautious when talking about the car’s pace, “looking good, but it is only a Friday,” he remarked.
Teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. will be taking a new power unit on Turkish soil, the upgraded hybrid system the Monegasque driver ran in Russia two weeks ago.
THE TITLE RIVALRY
The 24-year-old crossed the finish line fifth in FP2 behind teammate Sergio Perez, having recorded the second-fastest time in FP1.
After practice, Verstappen took to social media, outlining: “Great track, but today was challenging. It looks like we have some work to do overnight, to improve our performance.”
The Dutch took a new power unit himself at the Russian Grand Prix, which placed him at the back of the grid, starting from 20th.
However, he managed to make the most out of his pace and race strategy (switching to intermediates tyres), which led him to finish the race second in the overall standings.
Verstappen’s outstanding performance in Sochi allowed him to secure valuable points for the championship.
Title rival Hamilton spoke on Sunday’s race expectations: “I have a lot of work to do on Sunday, and I need to just focus on getting the best out of tomorrow, obviously aiming for pole to limit the loss of the penalty.”
After a nine-year absence, the Turkish GP returned to the Formula One world championship calendar in 2020. And it was in Instanbul Park that the 36-year-old claimed his 73rd victory for Mercedes, sealing a historic seventh championship title.
The fight for the championship will write a new chapter on Sunday, a crucial round for both drivers in which their respective teammates could end up playing a pivotal role.