Chinese GP: Lewis Hamilton gets five-place gearbox penalty

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton
World champion Lewis Hamilton has yet to win a race after two grands prix this season

Lewis Hamilton will be given a five-place grid penalty at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix for a gearbox change.

The world champion has had a difficult start to the season and trails Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the championship after two races.

Mercedes said the gearbox had sustained damage during the last race in Bahrain.

"I love racing and it's a race this weekend, rather than be at the front and have less of a race," Briton Hamilton said.

"When you hear that you're arriving with a penalty already, of course that changes the approach to the weekend, that changes the mindset. For me a challenge is an opportunity to rise, so I'm really excited about the opportunity from where I'm going to start."

Chinese Grand Prix coverage details

F1 rules say that drivers must use a single gearbox for six consecutive races.

Mercedes changed the gearbox rather than risk a retirement as Shanghai "was the best place to make the change and take the penalty".

This is because the track, which has the longest straight on the calendar, offers the best overtaking opportunities of the next four races.

"It is going to be an easy weekend for Nico, for sure. Most likely it will be an easier weekend for him," added Hamilton.

"But it doesn't mean I can't give him a good run for his money from wherever I start. I'll be pushing as hard as I can.

"It doesn't mean I can't win the race, which is my thought process, rather than damage limitation."

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton suffered damage to his Mercedes after contact with Valtteri Bottas' Williams at the first corner in Bahrain

Rosberg, though, is taking nothing for granted.

"Hamilton starting sixth is still going to challenge for the win," he said. "I am still fully focused.

"It is not only him, Ferrari have not shown at all what they can do yet because they have had such a messy two races. It couldn't have gone any worse for them really."

Hamilton, 31, has been on pole position at both races so far in Australia and Bahrain but has made relatively poor starts which cost him positions on the first lap. German Rosberg went on to win both races.

In Melbourne, Hamilton recovered to finish second. In Bahrain he collided with Williams' Valtteri Bottas at the first corner and fought back to third.

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