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Hamilton to ‘pick’ penalty race carefully

01 Jul 2016

Lewis Hamilton revealed his resigned philosophical state in Austria on Thursday when more than once he used the expression “It is what it is.” And what it is, one could argue, is a mess as far as his annual power unit allocations are concerned.

He has a fresh Mercedes engine this weekend, and his allocation of turbochargers and MGU-H units has now reached it maximum permitted number of five for the season. This is also his third internal combustion engine, and he is on his third MGU-K and his fourth energy store and control electronics, such have been the reliability issues that have hit his car.

All of that means he is resigned to having “at least” one 10-place grid penalty in the remaining 13 races, but possibly two.

Explaining what strategy he would try to take in such circumstances, he said: "I’ll try to find a circuit where I feel I’ll be able to get the furthest up the order, and maybe a track where I might be able to catch up, even challenge for the win. That's my thought process. I have to go into it thinking I can still win it. There could be safety cars, there could be all sorts of things, obviously I have to have an optimistic view on it.

"The chances of Nico winning and me finishing second or further back where I have to take penalties is obviously higher. We'll just have to deal with it and try to work our way through it."

There are eight Mercedes-powered drivers: Rosberg in the other works car, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas at Williams, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg at Force India and Pascal Werhlein and Rio Haryanto at Manor. And all of them are in a far better state than Hamilton thanks to the extraordinary litany of problems that he’s faced. None of them has used more than their second allocation of the various mechanical components.

Clearly, the situation is rankling with the world champion, who seeks a fourth title in 2016.

"The worst thing is I'm the only Mercedes driver to have that," he said. "For sure it's difficult for us as a team and it's difficult considering we are the Mercedes team, so if there's 40 engines, you would hope that we have the best of the 40.

"That's just the way it goes, I'll just have to do the best I can with the one I have now and hopefully with the next one or two I get beyond that.

"It's not easy when you look at the table and you see eight Mercedes drivers and everyone else is on a normal plan and on a second engine and still has four left and I have one left."

He was also at pains to explain more of the situation with his engine mode which afflicted him in Baku and cost him a better finish than his eventual fifth place, especially since the world perceives that Rosberg cured the same problem much faster.

“It was nothing to do with me,” he stated baldly. “The team chose the programme that didn’t work, so I don’t know what to say. I just hope that it doesn’t happen again.

“It was the first time that they have chosen to use it from the start of a race rather than partway through, whereas Nico didn’t start with it and was able to switch back out of it straight away. I guess the team had better make sure it works in future.”

He said that while he has put a bad weekend in Baku behind him, he hasn’t over-analysed it: “I’ve moved on, and hope that what happened doesn’t happen again. I don’t analyse, that all gets lost in the smoke.”

Hamilton starts the Austrian weekend second in the driver standings, trailing team mate Rosberg by 24 points.