Lewis Hamilton to start eighth in Austria following F1 grid penalty

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Formula 1 championship contender Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix from eighth place on the grid after taking a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton arrived in Spielberg trailing Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 14 points at the top of the standings, having finished fifth two weeks ago in Baku when a faulty headrest cost him a likely victory.

Hamilton’s hopes of a second straight Austrian Grand Prix victory were dealt a blow on Friday evening when the FIA technical delegate revealed Mercedes had changed the gearbox on his car before it had completed its minimum cycle.

The penalty was formally confirmed by the stewards on Saturday ahead of qualifying, where Hamilton took third place on the grid behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel.

As a result, Hamilton will drop to P8 on the final grid for the race, but is set to start on super-soft tires that will last longer than the rest of the top 10’s tires, all of whom will take to the grid on ultra-softs.

“Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job and has been driving well all weekend,” Hamilton said.

“Obviously Sebastian is very quick this weekend so I’m happy to be third. I would loved to have improved my lap, but just wasn’t to be.

“I’ll do the best job I can [in the race]. I obviously want to try and get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri so I’ll do the best job I can to get further up.

“I have the super-soft tomorrow but I think it’s generally a slower tire than they are on but can maybe go longer. We will see.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.