Lewis Hamilton has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix after being deemed by the stewards to have hampered Kimi Räikkönen during the opening segment of Qualifying on Saturday.
The Mercedes AMG Motorsport driver had qualified on the front row alongside Charles Leclerc but will take a three-place drop on Sunday, promoting Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to the front row and Valtteri Bottas into third. However, he will not start fifth as Kevin Magnussen, the driver who qualified in fifth, has a penalty of his own for a gearbox change, so Hamilton will start fourth ahead of McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris.
Speaking ahead of the penalty being handed out, Hamilton admitted he was not aware that the Alfa Romeo Racing driver was coming as he approached turn three, and despite making an attempt to get out of the way, it was enough to put Räikkönen off his attempt and earn the penalty.
“Obviously, there was the incident with Kimi in Q1,” said Hamilton. “I got off the brakes to try and get out of the way, because I didn’t want to meet in the corner.
“I don’t think we did, but it probably did put him off. I wasn’t aware the car was coming, so it wasn’t the easiest.”
Hamilton praised Leclerc for the stunning pole position lap that saw the Scuderia Ferrari driver break the lap record around the Red Bull Ring, and the reigning World Champion admits Mercedes has not been able to keep pace with Ferrari this weekend so far.
“Congratulations to Charles, he’s been quick all weekend and we’ve just not really been able to keep up with the Ferraris so far this weekend,” said Hamilton. “They’ve got the power advantage on the straights, but also seem to have figured out the medium and high-speed corners.
“For us, the car has been feeling good, but we can’t do much more on the straights and that’s something we’ll continue to work towards.”
Hamilton was hopeful of getting a tow during his flying laps in Q3 but was always seemingly at the front of the queue until the very final run, with his last lap good enough to see him set a time just over two-tenths of a second off Leclerc’s best.
“Positioning was difficult out there, I was always at the front so was never getting the slipstream,” Hamilton added. “Luckily, I got an OK position for that last lap, but it was tight at the end.
“Still, I’m happy with the position and it’s cool to see three different teams in the first three positions. I’m excited to get out there tomorrow and race with these guys, fingers crossed we can put on a good show tomorrow.”
The incident with Räikkönen also earned Hamilton a penalty point on his Superlicence, which is his first. A driver who attains twelve points will receive an automatic one race ban.