Lewis Hamilton set for five-place grid penalty at Austrian GP
Gearbox change puts Hamilton on the backfoot at the Red Bull Ring; Hamilton had topped both of Friday's practice sessions
By Pete Gill and James Galloway at the Red Bull Ring
Last Updated: 12/07/17 5:22pm
Lewis Hamilton's hopes of cutting Sebastian Vettel's title lead in the Austrian GP have suffered a setback after the Mercedes driver was hit by a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.
Mercedes have had to change the unit before it has completed its mandatory six races, with the matter referred to the stewards on Friday evening.
A grid demotion of five places is the automatic sanction when gearboxes are changed out of sequence.
It means that Hamilton, who was fastest in both Friday practice sessions in Austria, will start Sunday's race no higher than sixth.
Mercedes informed the FIA of the impending change on Tuesday.
The world champions have ruled out any possibility that the damage to the unit was done when world championship leader Sebastian Vettel twice hit Hamilton's car in Baku.
Hamilton had been in serene form around the Red Bull Ring on Friday, topping both sessions and out-pacing Vettel by almost two tenths in Practice Two.
When's the Austrian GP on Sky?
All the TV times and ways to watch this weekend's race exclusively live on Sky F1.
Speaking afterwards but before news of his impending grid demotion broke, Hamilton told reporters: "The car felt good. It was a pretty good day. The track felt pretty good from the get go, the grip was amazing from the start. We had a good baseline to start with and we kept chipping away at it.
"We are going to work hard tonight to try and find some more performance. I got the car to the limit and we'll now look at the weaknesses to improve. We generally do improve Friday to Saturday."
Hamilton currently trails Vettel by 14 points in the title race approaching the halfway stage of the season.
Watch all 3 GPs for £33.99
Grab a £33.99 Sky Sports Month Pass and enjoy all 3 GPs in July, plus The Open, and much, much more!!
Full statement from the FIA
'44 Mercedes Lewis Hamilton
'The above driver did finish the last race in Baku and this gearbox change was before the six consecutive Events expired. As this is not in compliance with Article 23.5a of the 2017 Formula One Sporting Regulations, I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.
'The team informed the technical delegate about the gearbox change on Tuesday, 04th July 2017, at 11:29 hours.'
Comment below to get involved in the debate, but please adhere to our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click 'Report'.