Fernando Alonso calls for Lewis Hamilton punishment after fifth engine change

Fernando Alonso has poured scorn on Lewis Hamilton's recent resurgence by claiming his former teammate should be starting from the back of the grid.

Hamilton's world title hopes appeared to be fading ahead of the Brazil Grand Prix this month, when Mercedes opted to alter the internal combustion unit (ICU) on his car – representing a fifth engine change of the season.

Under current F1 rules, drivers are allowed to use three different engines over the course of the season without incurring a penalty, but anything beyond that triggers punishment.

At the Turkish Grand Prix in October, the seven-time world champion accepted a 10-place penalty after a fourth engine change, and at the time said he was confident no further changes would be needed in the remainder of 2021.

However, Mercedes then opted to change the ICU again in Sao Paulo, which meant a five-place grid penalty for Hamilton and seemingly a huge blow to his hopes of hunting down Max Verstappen.

The gamble duly paid off though, as Hamilton used his extra power to storm from 10th on the grid and take the chequered flag in one of his greatest ever wins.

He kept the ascendancy in Qatar with a dominant display from first on the grid, cutting Verstappen's overall championship lead to just eight points ahead of the final two races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The Red Bull man has since argued that Hamilton's grid penalty in Brazil was insufficient, given the consummate ease with which he powered through the field.

And his words have now been echoed by Alonso, who famously feuded with the British driver while the pair were teammates in McLaren in 2007, Hamilton's debut season.

"Those who have exceeded a certain number of engines per year should be sent to the back of the grid," the Alpine driver told Spanish outlet AS.

The two-time world champion himself enjoyed a good race in Qatar, notching a first podium finish since 2014, despite being a considerable way off the pace set by Hamilton and Verstappen in front of him.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has labelled the new engine "spicy equipment," and has already said he believes the recent change can boost Hamilton again this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

The design of new circuit in Jeddah is thought to favour the current superior straight line speed of the 'Silver Arrows' cars.

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