Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Sport | By

Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty for Bahrain

Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty for Bahrain

Four-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has been handed an automatic five-place grid penalty for Sunday's (April 8) Bahrain Grand Prix after his Mercedes auto needed to be fitted with a new gearbox.

"Unfortunately we couldn't fix the box within the six-race cycle so need to take a fresh one, incurring the grid penalty".

Prior to discovering the problem, uncomfortable with both their lack of pace and the strong pace shown by Ferrari throughout the day, Mercedes technical director James Allison had said, "Although we were untroubled by any reliability issues, and we ran through our program as expected, it wasn't our best day from a performance point of view".

The rules mandate that F1 gearboxes have to last for six consecutive events, and as the Briton finished the last race in Australia, such a change will incur a drop of grid places.

On the run-up to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel suggested the Scuderia is now lagging the Silver Arrows outfit by about 0.4 seconds.

Raikkonen and Vettel were up front as cooler temperatures and nightfall matched the conditions for Sunday evening's race.

"It looks very close between all the teams and we definitely have got some work to do to try and see if we can eke out to be ahead of the others", he said.

"The base is okay but we have not yet found the sort of edge that we had in Melbourne".

Raikkonen was later investigated for an unsafe release following a pitstop.

Max Verstappen, who failed to register a time in the first session, was fifth, ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo - the fastest driver in the first practice. The British driver twice took his Mercedes too wide on corners. He got out and helped stewards wheel it back to the team garage. The Dutch driver spun early into the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago, finishing in sixth place. "So we can already see from the Friday running you have more grip in every single lap, the vehicle balance is changing, so we need to make estimations for the next sessions, the next runs and it's going to be the same thing tomorrow".

There will be a third and final practice session on Saturday before qualifying.

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