Any thoughts that Lewis Hamilton
may have escaped lightly following his blow-out late in final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix
were dashed when Mercedes reported that it would be changing the Briton's gearbox ahead of qualifying.
Hamilton limped back into the pits after the chequered flag had fallen on FP3, his left read corner askew after the tyre failure took the W04's lower wishbone with it. The damage, however, looked comfortably repairable in the time between practice and qualifying, but a routine check of the car uncovered a problem with the gearbox that left the team with no option but to replace the unit.
As the switch took place after practice, it carries with it a five-place grid penalty that will dent Hamilton's ambitions of racking up back-to-back poles for his new team. More realistically, however, it could drop the Briton to the tail of the top ten as he has struggled to match the likes of Red Bull
for pace so far this weekend.
Mark Webber and Esteban Gutierrez are already carrying penalties into qualifying following contact incidents in China last weekend.