London: Reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is "likely" to take a grid penalty at this weekend`s Belgian Grand Prix, according to his Mercedes team.
The demotion, which will be worth at least ten places, is a hangover from the reliability woes Hamilton suffered at the start of the season.
The three-time world champion leads this year`s title race by 19 points from team-mate Nico Rosberg, reports Sky Sports.
Hamilton has reached the penalty-free limit for two of the six power-unit elements that the current rulebook regard as comprising an F1 engine.
A 10-place grid penalty is applied whenever a sixth unit of any of those elements is first used by a driver. A five-place penalty is then imposed the first time a remaining sixth element is introduced.
Having previously indicated they would elect to trigger his long-anticipated demotion in either Belgium or at next week`s Italian GP at overtaking-friendly Monza, Mercedes is expected to fit Hamilton`s car with at least two new engines whenever the penalty is taken.
The Englishman would then suffer his penalty in a single hit rather than run the risk of enduring a series of demotions during the rest of the season.
"An engine penalty is likely and confirmation is expected tomorrow," a team spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Although Hamilton`s penalty may be in excess of the 22 positions on this year`s grid, any remaining demotions can`t be carried over for subsequent races after the rules were amended at the start of the year.
Sunday`s race will be the first since the sport broke up at the end of July for a summer break.