Hamilton gets five place grid penalty for gearbox change

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton inspects his damaged rear wheel after FP3

Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of winning the Bahrain Grand Prixtook a heavy knock on Saturday when he was given a five-place penalty for a gearbox change that dropped him to ninth on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.

Nobody in the eight previous races at the Sakhir Formula One circuit has won from lower than fourth at the start.

The 2008 world champion was penalised for no fault of his own after a sudden tyre deflation in final free practice before qualifying damaged the car’s suspension and gearbox.

Any unscheduled gearbox change incurs an automatic five-place penalty.

Hamilton took pole position in China last weekend – his first for the team he joined from McLaren at the end of 2012 – and blamed debris on the track for his Bahrain misfortune.

Pirelli said in a statement that the tyre had not suffered any structural failure.

Asked how frustrated he felt, and whether the rules should be changed, Hamilton replied: “It doesn’t really matter. The rules are the rules. I got a penalty and I’ve just got to suck it up and deal with it.”

Team principal Ross Brawn felt it would be too complicated to change the rules because then there could be argument about how much a driver had contributed to the failure by his style of driving.

“But I think it is certainly worthy of looking at,” he added. “It’s annoying but luckily it doesn’t happen too often because if it happens at a critical time in the championship it could be doubly frustrating.”