Mercedes’ Brawn bothered by Hamilton penalty

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Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes that Lewis Hamilton was penalized five grid positions for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix because of reasons beyond his control and thus, shouldn’t be punished.

In FP3 before qualifying on Saturday morning, Hamilton’s left rear tire blew out and caused additional damage to the suspension in that area of his machine. The team opted to change the gearbox as part of repairs, triggering the penalty from the FIA; Hamilton qualified fourth this afternoon, but will have to start ninth from the grid in tomorrow’s race (7:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

Afterwards, Brawn called for another look at that particular regulation, saying that Hamilton had also made the same point to him.

“The difficulty we have in the future is where we get marginal cases where you have a problem, perhaps aggravated by the driver, and you don’t get a gearbox failure as such, but it needs to be changed,” said Brawn to reporters in Bahrain. “Then you get into these long debates…It is frustrating to get a penalty when there has been an outside influence. It’s annoying.”

“Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often, but if it were to happen at a critical part of the season then it would be doubly frustrating, so it’s worth looking at again.”

According to Alan Baldwin of Reuters, Pirelli has said in a statement that the left-rear tire had not suffered any structural failure. As for Hamilton, he basically shrugged at the situation.

“It doesn’t really matter,” the former World Champion told Reuters. “The rules are the rules. I got a penalty and I’ve just got to suck it up and deal with it.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.