F1

Toto Wolff hints at second engine penalty for Lewis Hamilton in F1 title race with Max Verstappen

Mercedes team principal Tofo Wolff has admitted that Lewis Hamilton could face a second engine penalty this season, in what would be a major blow to the defending champion’s chances in his Formula 1 title race with Max Verstappen.

Hamilton served a 10-place grid penalty at last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix after he was forced to use his fourth engine this season – one more than the permitted number.

The Briton was fastest in qualifying but had to start from 11th on the grid in Istanbul, ultimately finishing fifth after climbing as high as third.

Meanwhile, title rival Max Verstappen came second to reclaim the lead from Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas took the win.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Mercedes boss Wolff said: “We had to do [the engine change in Turkey].

“We saw some data on the Internal Combustion unit that didn’t look very promising and a DNF [did not finish] is a total killer for the championship.

“We’ve seen over the course of the season that we’ve had some little gremlins that we weren’t completely sure where they came from and how much performance they could potentially cost.

“So we’d rather have a new engine in the pool and that we understand that can possibly go longer.”

Wolff, who said Hamilton’s engine had been making some “unusual noises” prior to the change, also refused to rule out yet another engine replacement – and, as such, another grid penalty.

“[The fourth engine] can last until the end of the season, but there could be a moment where we say: ‘Is it worth taking a fresh one, because the other one is still at risk?’

“So, this is something that is going to be really a work in progress.”

Hamilton trails Red Bull’s Verstappen by six points in the championship with six races remaining this season.

The next event is the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on 24 October.

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