Lewis Hamilton to Take Engine Grid Penalty
Lewis Hamilton. (Getty Images)
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton on Thursday confirmed he expects to be taking a full engine change grid penalty at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old Briton, who leads his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by 19 points in this year's title race with nine races remaining, said he would do his best to limit the damage and hoped to finish as high as fourth if he started from the back of the grid.
The defending three-time champion has already used his fifth and final turbo and MGU-H (motor generator unit-heat) and will automatically take a penalty as soon he has moves to take his sixth unit.
"As far as I am aware we will be taking the penalty this weekend," he told reporters at a pre-race news conference, the first since Formula One's traditional European summer break.
"Naturally, we've already discussed engine penalties that will come into play, for sure, but I will do everything I can to minimise the impact.
"Otherwise, beyond that penalty, that I will eventually take, I think I will be able to continue with the momentum I had before the break."
Hamilton reeled off four wins in a row in July before the summer holidays and has won six of the last seven races. He said he will aim to do his utmost.
"I think, in terms of winning, that is the goal, but it will be very, very hard –- the gap has closed between other cars, we are in the third year of this evolution of the cars and I think Red Bull are very quick, same as Ferrari.
"It will be harder than it was last year, or the year before, to climb up through the field so it will be about minimising the damage of taking a penalty."
Hamilton faces a penalty situation after a series of engine failures early in the season.
Asked if he blamed the team for this, he said he always felt he was part of the team.
"It is a team sport, so we win and lose together as a team -– sometimes it is not just a mistake, just a thing that happens.
"I don't look at it as incompetence at all. I look at it as a learning experience because we learned from the issues and they won't happen again," added Hamilton, who also said he had travelled to at least "six or seven" different countries during his three-week holiday.
Asked if he could win Sunday's race from the back of the grid, he said: "Very difficult...Not likely. But never say never...So I am going to go for it!"
If he did win the 60th running of the Belgian Grand Prix it would be his 50th victory -– a landmark feat that he said he would never have dreamed of when he was falling in love with Formula One as a tv-watching child.
"I never expected this or to be even thinking about a 50th win and I still pinch myself every day that I am here in Formula One," said Hamilton.