Adrian Sutil has received a five place grid penalty after changing his gearbox ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.
The German driver is currently fighting to secure his future in Formula One after a difficult run of form that has seen him pick up just three points since the British Grand Prix back in July. That said, these are the only points that Force India as a whole have scored in this time period as Paul di Resta’s form has nose-dived thanks to five consecutive retirements.
During the final practice session at Suzuka on Saturday morning, Sutil made an error on the exit of Spoon, causing his Force India to spear into the wall on the left-hand side of the track and causing damage to his car, warranting a new gearbox.
This incident did end his session but the team was able to repair the car in time for qualifying, but the lost running did prove costly as Sutil could only qualify in seventeenth place.
As a result of the penalty, Sutil will start the Japanese Grand Prix from last on the grid. Jules Bianchi had qualified last and does carry a ten place grid penalty into the event after picking up three reprimands across the course of the season. However, as his penalty was received before Sutil’s, it is applied to the results in that order, meaning that the Marussia driver actually makes up a position.
Charles Pic is also subject to a ten place penalty due to his tally of reprimands, but he will drop just one place on the grid to P20 behind teammate Giedo van der Garde.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.