Lewis Hamilton: Engine woe gives F1 rival Nico Rosberg a free race

Lewis Hamilton says his likely engine penalty later this season means Mercedes team-mate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg will essentially have a "free race"

Lewis Hamilton: Engine woe gives F1 rival Nico Rosberg a free race

Reigning world champion Hamilton reached his maximum tally of five turbochargers and MGU-Hs in Austria last month, making a 10-place grid penalty later this year almost inevitable.

"If Nico continues to qualify well and at least one race I'm going to start from the pitlane or at the back, he has a free race ahead," said Hamilton, whose run of six wins in seven races has turned a 43-point deficit into a 19-point lead over Rosberg in the standings.

"Anything can happen when you are coming from the back, as you have seen.

"I definitely don't feel it's all even. If we had the same amount of engines then right now I could be like that but that's not the case.

"But that is the way it is and if anything it makes me hungry that I've just got to fight harder."

Hamilton has suggested he could take a double penalty at a grand prix to create a pool of components to see him to the end of the year.

In Germany, he indicated a change could come at one of the next two races at Spa or Monza but hoped he had looked after his Hockenheim winning engine sufficiently that it could be used again.

"I saved my engine a lot," he said. "Hopefully I've saved enough of my engine so that I would be able to use it at the next race.

"It [the change] will either be at the next race or Monza, because I'm going to run out of engines soon."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said "no decision has been taken" on when the change will happen with several factors needing to be taken into account.

"It could be Monza," he said. "It's about minimising his penalty on a track where overtaking is a bit easier than others.

"We also want to drag it a little bit out to see that he can make it as smooth as possible to finish season with that last engine.

"We don't want to change the engine when the following race will be an upgrade that is performance enhancing and would be benefiting Nico, so all that needs to be taken into consideration."

Last year, Mercedes used all of its remaining engine development tokens for an upgrade ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

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