Rosberg to take grid penalty after Austria crash

Sat Jul 2, 2016 6:37am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg's hopes of a third successive Austrian Grand Prix win took a hit on Saturday when he crashed in final practice and damaged his Mercedes' gearbox, incurring a five-place grid penalty.

Mercedes said mechanics were working flat out to repair the damaged car in time for afternoon qualifying at the Red Bull Ring circuit.

"A gearbox penalty will be incurred as a full new unit will be fitted for qualifying," a spokesman said.

Championship leader Rosberg is the only driver to have won in Austria since the race returned in 2014 after an 11-year absence and he is hoping to continue the run on Sunday to increase his 24-point lead over team mate Lewis Hamilton.

However the accident, after Rosberg had dominated Friday's practice sessions with the fastest lap at the scenic circuit nestling in the wooded Styrian hills, could hand the British triple world champion a significant advantage.

Mercedes said the car had suffered a left rear suspension failure after an unusually high load at full throttle on the exit kerb at turn two.

The car spun several times before spearing into the barriers.

The session was halted with 21 minutes remaining and the car brought back to the garage on a truck, with Rosberg, winner of five of the season's eight races to date, making his frustration evident on his return.   Continued...

Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany after crashing in training. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler