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Lewis considered wilful penalty

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 28-08-2016
Lewis Hamilton © Press Association Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has said he considered whether he should pick up a deliberate reprimand at the Belgian GP before deciding it was "not a very smart idea". 

Hamilton remains one reprimand away from a 10-place grid penalty after picking up two sanctions for minor driving offences earlier in the season.

With the Mercedes driver picking up a succession of engine penalties in Belgium totalling 55 places, one theory on social media was that Hamilton could find a way to pick up a third reprimand so to trigger the resultant 10-place on the same weekend he was already guaranteed to start at the back of the grid.

The world champion has conceded the idea did cross his mind before being swiftly ruled out.

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"Of course we thought about that," Hamilton said. "But firstly that would mean doing something illegal in terms of the rules and something unsafe deliberately, which is against the rules as well.

"That's not how we play and not how we do it. Plus, perhaps if we had done that, they would have said 'you've already got a 55-place penalty here so we'll give you the 10 in the next race'.

"So it's actually not a very smart idea."

Put to him that he could have done something as simple as turn up late for Thursday's drivers' press conference, Hamilton replied: "Honestly, I thought about every scenario, but none of them were going to work."

In addition to walking a tightrope on reprimands since May's Russian GP, Hamilton's title challenge has had the spectre of grid penalties hanging over it since he suffered repeat engine failures in the early flyaway rounds.

Mercedes' tactical decision at Spa to add three new units into his pool mean he should now have sufficient engines to complete the 2016 season.

However, one further dilemma could still await team and driver - whether he takes any upgraded engine Mercedes introduce later in the season.

The German manufacturer still has six development tokens to spend and its next scheduled point to introduce engines is October's Japanese GP. While Nico Rosberg remains on their planned engine schedule, Hamilton would have to take more grid penalties were he to also have access to the same upgrade.

"They are constantly developing the engine so there is a possibility that there will be an upgrade later in the year and I won't be able to take that," Hamilton acknowledged. "But that is the sacrifice I am forced to take.

Hamilton to start at the back at Spa

"I've got to take the engines now, I have no more. We can't mix and match the components that we have. The engine that I finished with in the last race might get through the race [this weekend if it was used], but it might not.

"So we've had to take on these three engines here, which is already better than the engine I had in the last race, so I'm confident of fighting with those three. I can definitely push them more."

One flip side of the strategy of stockpiling power units this weekend is that, having had to manage his engine usage in recent races, Hamilton is now able to push his new engine parts to the limit.

"There's a certain amount of limits you're given in a race weekend and I never even get close to them," he said. "When I had the five [penalty-free] engines I was just saving and hoping to take them further.

"Now I'm going to use my allowance and I can do that in all the races now."

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