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Hamilton hit with 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change

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SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Lewis Hamilton's chances of winning the Austrian Grand Prix have been hit by a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change.

Teams must use the same gearbox for six straight races but Hamilton's Mercedes team made the change before reaching that requirement.

The British driver is 14 points behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel heading into Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, the ninth race of the season. The penalty means that, even with pole position, Hamilton would start from sixth place on the grid.

The gearbox change was made on Tuesday and came after the last race in Azerbaijan. Mercedes had already changed it once on his car before that.

"This gearbox change was before the six consecutive events expired," the FIA said on its website. "Hamilton will inevitably be penalized."

Hamilton and Vettel have won three races each this season.

Hamilton topped both practice sessions on Friday. There was another practice session Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon.

Hamilton has 66 pole positions in his career, just two behind record holder Michael Schumacher.

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