I’m sorry, and please don’t take this wrong because I pay a lot of money to Autosport each year, but the recent article regarding a possible gearbox change penalty for Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix has me slightly perplexed.
It seems that Lewis will have to change a gearbox due to issues the team discovered during Friday’s practice sessions. The article quotes the FIA response about the change:
“The above driver did finish the last race in Baku and this gearbox change was before the six consecutive events expired.
“As this is not in compliance with article 23.5a of the 2017 Formula 1 sporting regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.
“The team informed the technical delegate about the gearbox change on Tuesday, 04th July 2017, at 11:29 hours.”
I’m not sure what the implication was supposed to be but the article then takes the bait and runs with the notion saying:
“It is unclear if the Hamilton damage was related to the hit from behind that he suffered when Sebastian Vettel ran into him in their controversial incident under the safety car.”
Banging Lewis’s front right wheel caused the gearbox failure in Austria…got it. The #TeamLH mobocracy on social media have taken this article and started suggesting that it’s possible and this could be the cause and this is why Sebastian Vettel should have had a bigger penalty if not ban.
Look, regardless of what meltdown Vettel had in Baku and Mexico last year, Mercedes have Lewis in a spot of bother that has nothing whatsoever to do with Sebastian’s anger management issues. They fitted an errant head support in Baku that cost Lewis the win and exacerbated Vettel’s penalty as a non-penalty and now they have a dodgy gearbox.
These aren’t Vettel-inspired or caused issues, these are technical issues Mercedes is facing. This is the part of the season—which I predicted in my season preview—where the engine component limit of four is going to start hurting teams in a big way and potentially ruin a championship.
I’ve just now started to see tweets from Hamilton fans that grid penalties for mechanical changes is not a good thing and not the right way forward. Where were these people when I was screaming about this before the season began? The notion of only four engine components is asinine and while the manufacturers and the FIA thought it might help reduce costs, the epic complexity of these albatross engines far overshadows the demand for reliability to reduce costs.
They saddled themselves with these engines and expenses and now only allowing four per year is, as I argued in early March, going to potentially ruin a championship run. If Lewis loses the title in 2017, it will be this regulation that could be the main culprit. For #TeamLH, it will be pinned on Vettel and Baku as the reason for the change. This is all nonsense and could have been foreshadowed back in April and avoided.
I find Autosport’s opining within news articles to be more frequent and disappointing. The FIA announcement wasn’t dog-whistling that the Baku incident may have caused the gearbox failure, it stated that this was the gearbox he used in Baku. To take that comment and posit the notion that the Vettel incident may have caused it is just inflammatory in my opinion.
Now we’ll see Mercedes pick up the torch and release a statement that the collision was the cause and the FI should give special dispensation for Lewis as they didn’t penalize Vettel correctly for the act and damage he caused. Good grief. Let’s hope Mercedes thinks wiser of it.
UPDATE: This just in from Mercedes: “The world champions have ruled out any possibility that the damage to the unit was done when world championship leader Sebastian Vettel twice hit Hamilton’s car in Baku.” Good to see Mercedes not reducing this to another nightmare social media drama.
Hat Tip: Autosport