In case you got sick of the boringly dominant Mercedes AMG Formula One team and stopped watching F1, oh, a few years ago maybe, good news—Mercedes driver and defending champion Lewis Hamilton will start at the back in the Belgian Grand Prix, adhering to a 55-place grid penalty in a 22-car field.
When it comes to huge penalties in moderately sized fields, it’s kind of like getting a 250-year sentence in prison when we all know humans don’t tend to live that long—other than starting at the back, it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. The only car behind Hamilton will be Fernando Alonso, who couldn’t make it more than 500 meters on a new power unit in qualifying.
That means Hamilton will start 21st despite his massive penalty from engine changes, and the BBC reports that he said it “will be hard to get into the top 10” because of it. But considering the fact that engine issues have plagued Hamilton this entire year, he and his team are actually at an advantage as far as the remainder of the season is concerned.
Because there are only 22 cars in the field for the Belgian Grand Prix and excessive grid penalties don’t carry over into additional time penalties during the race as they used to, Hamilton’s team went ahead and swapped out as much as they needed to in order to bring that engine back up to its dominant status. SkySports has a comprehensive breakdown of what exactly happened and how the grid penalties racked up, if you’re interested.
USA Today reports that the 55-place setback for Hamilton is a record penalty in F1, tying Alonso’s at the same race in 2015. But even with a dominant Mercedes force starting at the back of the field on Sunday, Hamilton’s teammate and fellow dominant driver, Nico Rosberg, is on the pole position.
Not everything in this life is rainbows and butterflies and good racing, it seems. But at least we know the F1 field won’t immediately fall into a conga line behind two Mercedes cars on Sunday—well, not on the first lap.
Update, Aug. 27 at 4:55 p.m. ET: Alonso will now have a 60-place grid penalty due to an engine change, according to Autosport. That’s a lot of imaginary cars to line up behind.