LEWIS HAMILTON faces the prospect of ANOTHER grid penalty after Mercedes chief Toto Wolff revealed he may have to switch to a new engine.
The British star, 36, was forced to drop ten places after qualifying on pole for last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix after taking a new internal combustion engine (ICE).
Formula One drivers are permitted to use three ICE components in a single season, with Turkey Hamilton‘s fourth.
The seven-time world champion’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas – who won in Istanbul – is currently on his FIFTH ICE.
And Wolff confirmed Mercedes have been forced to change so many times due to ‘gremlins’ in their engines earlier in the season.
The team boss revealed they had got to the bottom of the issues and must now weight up whether another ten-place grid penalty will be worth it in the long run for Hamilton.
Wolff told Sky Sports F1: “[The ICE] can last until the end of the season.
“But there could be a moment we say it is worth taking a fresh one because the other one is still at risk.”
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Wolff continued: “We had to (change the engine component 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.
“I think we understand much better now where the root cause lies.
“It’s something that can happen from time to time if you just have a material issue, a batch problem and these are the things you need to consider.”
Hamilton managed to climb up to fifth in Turkey despite his grid penalty – and could have ended higher if not for a tactical decision to change tyres late in the.
The British star lashed out at his team for the decision, before later defending his rant, blaming the ‘heat of the moment’.
Hamilton now sits five points behind rival Max Verstappen in the race for the F1 title with five races to go, starting with the US GP later this month.
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Following his fifth-placed finish in Turkey, Hamilton confessed he’s not giving the engine drama a moment’s though.
He said: “It’s not my job to worry about that stuff, so I let the guys focus on that, worry about it.
“My engine is in good condition. My first engine, I think, did six races. We still have engine two, and I think engine three is still there.
“As far as I’m aware, hopefully I don’t have to (use a fifth engine), but I can’t predict what’s up ahead.”