Hamilton escapes grid penalty for gearbox change

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Canada, Circuit Gilles Villeneuveca

Following Lewis Hamilton’s crash during the second free practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, Mercedes had to write his gearbox off. However, the change to a fresh unit won’t trigger a grid penalty.

The Briton was on his eighth lap on the 4.361-km-long Montreal track as he attacked Turn 8 very aggressively, drifiting a bit too much in the middle of the chicane. In the end, the five-time world champion could not calm the back end of his Mercedes down and kissed the concrete wall at the exit.

As a consequence of the crash, the rear end of the W10 suffered serious damage, including the floor and the suspension. His gearbox also got such a big hit that it can’t be used any more. However, the Briton would have received a new gearbox for Saturday anyway.

„The boys tried really hard to fix it, but there wasn’t enough time,” Hamilton rued his mistake. „I don’t remember the last time I missed a whole session before. It’s definitely not great to watch the session from the garage; it feels like sitting in the headmaster’s office, wishing to be back in class. It was an innocent mistake, I was doing multiple laps on the Medium tyre and was really trying to find the limit,” he said.

According to the Sporting Regulation, each driver may use no more than one gearbox for six consecutive events. Every unscheduled gearbox change will require the driver to drop five places on the grid at that meeting. However, if a driver fails to finish a race due to reasons beyond his or his team's control, he may start the next meeting with a different gearbox without incurring a penalty.

The regulation permits drivers to use their old gearboxes any time during the championship and teams usually exploit this opportunity to install older units into the cars for the Friday free practice sessions.

As the Canadian Grand Prix is the seventh round of the season and Hamilton finished the first six races, he is free to use a new unit from this weekend on. On Friday, the current championship leader was running with the old gearbox in his car. Therefore, his crash only means that he cannot save his fresh unit during the Friday practices of the following events by using the first, old one.