Lewis Hamilton Gets 5-Place Grid Penalty For F1 Austrian Grand Prix
Is some unseen force trying to undo Hamilton's season?
Time for all you Formula One conspiracy theorists to break out those tinfoil hats. Right on the heels of the hot mess that was the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton will be hit with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. This will have him starting no higher than sixth, assuming no one else up front gets a penalty. In all likelihood, Hamilton will be starting behind his best frenemy, Sebastian Vettel.
After the pitstop for the loose headrest took Hamilton out of the lead in Baku and Vettel ending up in front of him after the penalty for the intentional collision, many Hamilton fans are crying foul. On Twitter, some are blaming the team for letting Hamilton down two weeks in a row. Some don't understand why a gearbox change is a penalty and seem to think that it's a harsher penalty than Vettel got from Azerbaijan.
As we approach the halfway point of the season, are there forces conspiring to ease one driver to victory in the championship? Is it all scripted like a bad "reality" television show? After Vettel got a slap on the wrist from the FIA, how could Hamilton possibly get a penalty like this in the following race? Put on those tinfoil hats now, because we have the answer.
The Drive has uncovered a secret document titled "2017 Formula One Sporting Regulations." It's so secret that it hides in plain sight on the FIA website. In this document are all of the hidden rules the FIA totally wants you to see.
In the case of Hamilton's gearbox penalty, we used our top secret PDF decoder program to have a look at Sporting Reg 23.5(a), which addresses the issue at hand.
"Each driver may use no more than one gearbox for six consecutive Events in which his team competes. Should a driver use a replacement gearbox he will drop five places on the starting grid at that Event and an additional five places each time a further gearbox is used."
Hamilton's gearbox had only been run at two races. You can put away those foil hats now.
Rules like this are in place to force the teams to design and manufacture reliable mechanical parts for their cars. Without these rules, the teams with money, like Mercedes, Ferrari, and maybe Red Bull would be putting in new engines, gearboxes, and anything else possible before each session of a race weekend. They'd basically be running a brand new car each day.
Is a five-place grid penalty harsh for a mechanical failure that is out of the driver's control? No. It's not like you can penalize a mechanic or a worker back at the factory. These are the rules and that's how it goes. At the next race, someone else will get a penalty for a replacement engine, turbo, or some other part.
Also, Mercedes has confirmed that the gearbox issue was not caused by the contact with Vettel in Azerbaijan. This has absolutely nothing to do with Azerbaijan in any way, shape, or form. So, throw those tinfoil hats away. Let's all just hope for great racing on Sunday.