Lewis Hamilton Turkish GP penalty that would help out Max Verstappen is ‘a possibility’

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Lewis Hamilton may take an engine penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend that would hand Max Verstappen a strong chance to reclaim the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. With the championship battle finely poised, Formula One heads to Istanbul for the 16th of 22 races this season.

And Mercedes and Hamilton are mulling over whether or not to take an engine penalty in Turkey or at another race.

The seven-time world champion has already used up the maximum permitted three engines this season and with seven races left of the year, will almost certainly have to use a fourth to avoid the possibility of breaking down mid-race and suffering a DNF.

Hamilton is only two points clear of Verstappen in the driver’s standings although accepting a penalty in Turkey will see him start 20th on the grid.

That was what Verstappen did at the recent Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Clever thinking from Red Bull and fortuitous weather conditions allowed the Dutchman to minimise the damage as he finished second.

Hamilton won the race, clinching his 100th F1 victory in the process, but only opened up a narrow lead over Verstappen thanks to his rival’s late surge up the order.

And Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits it is possible that Hamilton accepts a penalty of his own at the upcoming Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park this weekend.

He told Sky Sports News: “It’s a possibility. When, and how, is not yet decided. Most important is that you don’t DNF because of a reliability issue.

“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…

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

If he does start from 20th, Hamilton will clearly be eager to do as Verstappen did and rip through the field to try and finish as high as possible to cut down the points differential.

He will also hope for a favour from team-mate Valtteri Bottas or the likes of McLaren and Ferrari to try and prevent Verstappen from clinching the full 25 points from another race win.

Wolff is meanwhile excited to see what the next chapter of the championship battle entails with Hamilton, seeking a record-breaking eighth title, and Verstappen having contested some thrilling battles this season.

“Lewis has been tremendous there,” Wolff said of Turkey, where Hamilton won last year to make mathematically sure of his seventh triumph.

“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.”

Hamilton expects Turkey to suit rivals Red Bull and Verstappen and said: “Well, undoubtedly it’s going to be tough.

“I think, for two-thirds of the season so far they’ve had the edge. However, it’s obviously been difficult with all sorts of things, curveballs sent to both of us and our teams.

“There’s still everything to play for in these next races. I think they’ve got a good set of circuits coming up and I anticipate or just continue to be really close between us. Just got to be hopeful of some good races.”

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