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Hamilton facing F1 power unit grid penalty after Spa collision

The power unit used by Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1's Belgian Grand Prix has been returned to Mercedes' powertrains base in Brixworth for inspection following his collision with Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, on the grid

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

If it has been damaged too much to be used again, the seven-time world champion will have to take a grid penalty in the near future.

Hamilton’s W13 landed heavily after he was launched when he made contact with Alonso on the first lap. Onboard footage from Alonso and other following cars showed fluid emerging from the back of the Mercedes, while Hamilton reported that he could feel damage.

The team studied the telemetry from the car and some 38 seconds after the impact he was told by his engineer Peter Bonnington, “Back off, no full load, part throttle, part throttle.”

Shortly after the impact, Bonnington urged Hamilton to park on the right side of the track. Hamilton continued slowly while looking for a place to pull up before responding to further requests to stop by switching off the power unit some 90 seconds after his hard landing.

Bonnington’s urgent messages and the smoke from the car suggested that all might not be well with the V6 after running without its coolant, even for a relatively short period.

A Mercedes spokesman confirmed to Motorsport.com that the power unit has been returned to Brixworth for examination and thus a verdict on whether it can be used again, noting that the health of the V6 was “definitely a concern.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13 crash with Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13 crash with Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Hamilton had used only two V6s prior to taking his third of the year on Friday at Spa, so the example in question was almost brand new and thus expected to complete around seven race weekends - and potentially enable Hamilton to make it to the end of 2022 without further changes. Its loss from the pool will be costly.

Hamilton is also currently on the usage limit with his final MGU-K (also new in Spa), turbo, MGU-H, control electronics and energy store, and thus any further examples of those items will also trigger grid penalties.

The team says that his earlier power units are still operational. However they will have run a high mileage by now and typically teams save such engines for Friday practice, and Hamilton would clearly benefit from a fresh example for Monza.

Hamilton’s gearbox also took a hard hit when the car landed at Spa, and the gearbox carrier was cracked.

The internals are also subject to a damage inspection and, if they are no longer usable he will have to take a third set in Zandvoort. This will not trigger a penalty.

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