F1: Lewis Hamilton could still avoid engine penalty, says Mercedes chief Toto Wolff

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Lewis Hamilton in action at the Formula One Italian Grand Prix (Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton in action at the Formula One Italian Grand Prix (Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton could still avoid an engine penalty this season, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who says the defending Formula One champion will not necessarily use a fourth power unit before the campaign is up.

F1 drivers are permitted to use three power units per season, with a grid penalty handed out as punishment when that limit is exceeded.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was the victim of such a penalty at the Italian Grand Prix last weekend, starting the race from the back of the grid despite winning the sprint on Saturday after he was forced to use his fourth engine of the season. The Finn ultimately finished third.

With eight races remaining this year, Hamilton is second in the drivers’ standings, trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just five points. The Briton has two working engines at his disposal, meaning Mercedes are considering utilising a fourth.

Per Motorsport.com, Mercedes’ team principal Wolff said: “It’s not an absolute must, because we’re still running very comfortably with this power unit.

“It’s a decision that can be made at any time but, at the moment, we don’t feel it’s necessary.

“Does that mean we’re not going to take a fourth? No, it doesn’t. We will see how the next races pan out.”

Hamilton is bidding to win a record eighth F1 title, having tied Michael Schumacher’s seven championships by triumphing last season.

Rival Verstappen, meanwhile, is pursuing his first title.

The Dutchman and Hamilton took each other out of the Italian GP on Sunday in their second collision this season, with Verstappen later receiving the blame and a grid penalty for the next race: the Russian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo overtook Verstappen, who had started on pole at Monza, on the first lap before going on to win the race – his first victory since 2018.

Lando Norris made it a McLaren one-two by finishing second. It marked the 21-year-old Briton’s best result in an F1 grand prix.

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