Lewis Hamilton’s woes continue as he faces the possibility of starting from the back of the grid in at least two upcoming races.
The 31-year-old revealed he will use a fifth and final engine component at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Formula 1’s complex engine rules restrict the number of components used during a season and drivers and teams face heavy penalties for breaches.
“I’m starting with my last engine this weekend,” Hamilton explained. “I will have at least one race where I start dead last, and that could most likely be two.”
This is the latest setback for Hamilton who has been plagued by mechanical issues this season. Mercedes also supply engines to Force India, Williams and Manor Racing, and Hamilton cannot understand why he is the only Silver Arrows driver to have problems.
“It’s not easy to look at the table and you see eight Mercedes drivers and everyone else is on the normal plan, on their second engine and still have four engines left and I only have one left,” Hamilton lamented. “For sure it doesn’t feel great but there’s nothing I can do about it.
“Speaking to anyone about it won’t make no difference, it is what it is. I don’t fully understand why it’s happened but I just hope that Mercedes grows from it and I hope they learn something from the faults that they’ve found on mine and hope it doesn’t happen to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz engines.”
The Brackley-based outfit has dominated the sport for the last two years with its consistent performance, and most expected that to continue this season.
“Before this year I don’t think reliability was a huge thing,” said Hamilton. “The team’s always trying to get 100 per cent reliability, and if you can get somewhere near the 90s, you’re looking good for fighting for the championship.
“But this year it’s been different, and I don’t have an answer for why that’s happened.”
It is a further blow to the three-time World Champion’s title defense after teammate Nico Rosberg extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings by 24 points when the Briton was limited to a fifth-placed finish in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago after an error-ridden qualifying performance where he crashed out in Q3.
After the race Hamilton commented that it was “looking like a good year for Nico”.
But as far as Roberg is concerned the battle is still on.
“What he says, with all due respect, doesn’t change my way of thinking and how I approach it,” Rosberg added.
“The fact is he’s always beaten me in the last two years so it’s always going to be tough against him and I can guarantee you he hasn’t given up, far from it.
“The best way for me to win is Austria is just to focus on the task at hand and make sure I get this one right.”
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team