Hamilton says what we’re all thinking about Power-Unit Penalties

Lewis Hamilton has made his beliefs quite clear about the Power-Units of this era. Despite being one of the benefactors of the current regulations, the three-time World Champion has been scintillating in his analysis.

At Spa, Hamilton incurred a 55-place grid penalty because the Mercedes team opted to introduce a cache of extra Power-unit components. Alonso and McLaren took a similar approach, taking a 35-place grid drop to build up a small war-chest of components.

The tactical loophole saw both Champions start from the back of the grid, but where last season penalties of this magnitude were carried over to following race weekends, this season see’s the validity of such penalties only incurred at the weekend in which they are given.

After the race, Hamilton said,

“What do I think to the actual rule? The fact we have six components of an engine and mismatch [of component usage], I don’t think it’s great. People watching don’t care about that.

It’s far too technical, far too complicated. Most people watching don’t know what an MGU-H is and don’t bloody care. It doesn’t sound good. I still look online and watch old races with the old cars sounding great. I miss that. One day I hope we come back to that and simplify it.”

– Lewis Hamilton

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 31: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 31: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Pretty big of Hamilton to be critical of a system in which he’s gained massive advantages, both in the dominance of his team and the freedom to exploit the current system. But why were the limits on the amount of available power-units introduced in the first place?

All teams spend around 50% of their entire annual budget on engine development, so the current limit was introduced as a cost effective measure. The intentions are right with limiting the amount of components teams are allocated each season, but it isn’t having quite the desired effect.

perplexed Picard

If the bigger teams are granted the freedom to take 35-55-place grid penalties and suffer only a single penalty (C.mon, this IS how it is.), then the cost effective measure is suddenly redundant in the first place!

We’re not sure what the solution is, or whether Hamilton is completely correct to blast the thinking behind this cost effective measure, but the current solution isn’t having the desired outcome.

Lewis Hamilton after his accident during the race of the GP Spain of Formula 1, held at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, on may 15, 2016. Photo: Jordi Galbany/Urbanandsport/Nurphoto -- (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton after his accident during the race of the GP Spain of Formula 1, held at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, on may 15, 2016. Photo: Jordi Galbany/Urbanandsport/Nurphoto — (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Maybe a good idea would be to re-introduce the carry-over effect of the penalty system last year, but have a smaller grid-drop penalty per component? This would allow the bigger teams to exploit their own larger finances, but there is an incentive to develop more efficiency in the components if the penalties stand as they once did.

Either way, this doesn’t add anything to the spectacle from the fans perspective and theoretically, the entire grid could stock up on a hundred new components each over one weekend and it wouldn’t change the starting grid. Unlikely given that teams rarely agree with each-other, but entirely possible.