Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes have been hit with the news he will take a five-place grid penalty at the Brazilian Grand Prix after taking a new engine.
His Mercedes team had suggested they could take a new engine before the end of the season, and it has been confirmed he will make the change with four races in the year to go.
Hamilton goes into the race at Interlagos trailing title rival Max Verstappen by 19 points.
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The Sao Paulo circuit is expected to be suited to Hamilton’s Mercedes, but he will have to pick his way through the field.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team has had issues with engines all season, and this will be his fifth - two above the quota of three for the year.
“We feel that we can score more points,” Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said on Sky Sports of the decision to take the new engine. “We have deg (degradation) on the engine that until the end of the season is going to decrease in power.”
Asked how many engines are in Hamiltion’s pool for the remainder of the season, Wolff said: “Two. The new one and current one.
“I think this is the final one we need to take.”
He received a 10-place grid penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix, but a second violation only resulted in a five-spot demotion.
Verstappen is in charge in the title race, as he bids for his first championship, and should he win on Sunday he would be able to finish second behind Hamilton in the three remaining races to take the crown.
The Brazilian Grand Prix features a sprint race on Saturday, which is decided by qualifying later on Friday. Hamilton’s penalty will apply to Sunday’s race - with the grid decided by the result of the sprint.
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