Lewis Hamilton to serve five-place grid penalty in China
Lewis Hamilton's bid to open his winning account for the new season in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix has taken a significant hit after he was served with a five-place grid penalty.
The 31-year-old Mercedes driver has taken on a new gearbox for the third round of the championship in Shanghai following damage sustained to his former one in his first-corner collision with Valtteri Bottas at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
It means Hamilton, who is yet to win since he claimed his third title with victory at October's United States Grand Prix, will start only sixth even if he manages to qualify fastest.
"The gearbox of Lewis Hamilton's F1 W07 Hybrid sustained damage in Bahrain which required a physical inspection for full assessment," Mercedes posted on their Twitter feed on Thursday morning.
"Having done so the decision has been taken to change the gearbox rather than carry any risk moving forwards.
"Of the next four track in the normal cycle, Shanghai is the best place to make the change and take the resulting grid penalty. The Shanghai International Circuit has good overtaking opportunities so plenty of chance for Lewis Hamilton to get the hammer down."
Hamilton has won in Shanghai for the past two seasons, but he will face a stern test to extend that run into a third year.
The Briton has started both grands prix so far in 2016 on pole, but his races were blighted by poor getaways which resulted in him fighting back through the field to finish second in Australia and then third in Bahrain.
And following his five-place grid penalty, Hamilton, who dined out with his fellow racers in Shanghai on Wednesday night, will be left with more of the same on Sunday.
Hamilton is 17 points adrift of team-mate Nico Rosberg who has won the opening two rounds of the new season.
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Hamilton posted to his Instagram account: "Every year, I arrive into Shanghai with the most incredible welcome.
"This weekend is going to be tough. I will start with a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change but because of you guys I feel energised, motivated, and confident that we can regain ground lost."