Hamilton ‘possibly’ set for back row start in Turkey

Lewis Hamilton could be set for a grid penalty in Turkey next weekend, with Mercedes considering adding a fourth engine to the championship leaders’ pool of hardware.

Hamilton still has two viable power units from his original batch of three engines, but the accumulation of mileage and their waning health imply that Mercedes will need to introduce a fresh unit at some point to help the Briton’s title fight against Max Verstappen in the final seven races of the season.

The Red Bull driver took on a fourth engine and a grid penalty in Sochi last time out, a tactical change that proved massively successful following Verstappen’s run to P2 in the Russian Grand Prix.

Asked by Sky Sports if Hamilton could follow suit at Istanbul Park next weekend, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “It’s a possibility. When, and how, is not yet decided.”

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Wolff stressed the importance of avoiding at all costs a DNF that would potentially allow Verstappen to gain a points advantage that would prove very difficult for Hamilton to wipe out.

“Most important is that you don’t DNF because of a reliability issue,” added Wolff.

“You can cope with swings, whether you finish second, third, I think that is OK, the championship is going to go long. But if you don’t finish…

“So we are looking at the parameters of the engines, making sure we don’t suffer from any reliability problems.”

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Hamilton’s last reliability-induced DNF dates all the way back to the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion will be vying for a third triumph in Turkey, having won the event in 2010 and also last year, upon Formula 1’s return to Istanbul Park.

But Wolff knows that past performance is not necessarily an indication of future success.

“Lewis has been tremendous there,” said the Austrian. “But we have to take each race at a time.

“It’s so difficult, the cars are so close. I’m curious to see how this championship evolves.”

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