Chinese GP: Nico Rosberg walking away with it - Lewis Hamilton

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton and mechanic

Lewis Hamilton says his tough start to the season has handed a huge advantage to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton, who lost potential wins to Rosberg after bad getaways in the first two races, starts Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix last after an engine issue.

The Briton said he felt "more relaxed" than he would have in the past.

But he added: "It doesn't mean I'm not unhappy. I'm fighting for the World Championship and at the moment Nico is walking away with it."

Despite qualifying taking place on a near-dry track following heavy rain, warm and dry conditions are expected for Sunday's race, where more than 125,000 fans are expected.

The race is live on the BBC Sport website and 5 live.

Rosberg, who won the first two grands prix of the year in Australia and Bahrain, is on pole position in Shanghai.

Hamilton is 17 points behind Rosberg heading into the race and faces the very likely prospect of that margin extending.

Lewis Hamilton's car sets on fire during Q1 of the Hungarian grand prix
The last time Lewis Hamilton was knocked out in Q1 was back in 2014, when his car caught fire during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix

"There's a long, long way to go, so there's no real need to be too stressed about it," the world champion said.

"There's no reason to dwell on what happened because there's nothing I can do.

"All I can do is try and shape the future, and that's really what I'm trying to put my energy towards. Zero energy to what's behind me, 100% energy to what's in front."

He said getting on to the podium would be "a very tough challenge - just getting into the points is my goal".

More on the Chinese Grand Prix:
Hamilton will start last in China
How Chinese GP qualifying unfolded
Up close and personal with Verstappen
Imposing China is one of a kind

Hamilton already knew before qualifying that he faced a difficult weekend because a decision to change his gearbox meant he had a five-place grid penalty to serve.

But then his engine's energy recovery system developed a problem and he failed to set a lap time.

It is the latest in a series of dramas for Hamilton this season.

He took pole position in both Australia and Bahrain but could finish only second and third.

In Melbourne, he lost several positions after he was inadvertently nudged wide by Rosberg at the first corner as they battled for position behind the fast-starting Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

In Bahrain, a problem with the engine's revs on the grid meant he reacted slowly to the start. He was then hit by Williams' Valtteri Bottas when slotting in behind Rosberg at the first corner, requiring another comeback drive, this time in a damaged car.

chinese gp
Red army: More than 125,000 are expected to attend the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday

Hamilton attitude is 'mind-blowing'

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff praised the way the 31-year-old had handled the disappointments so far.

"He's in a great place," Wolff said. "The development I've seen in him as a personality is mind-blowing, over the last three years he's been with the team.

"He's won two championships and found himself, I think, as a person.

"You can imagine how much pressure he is under with all the people who criticise, and nevertheless he follows his instinct, he follows his way, and that seems to be working.

"The Lewis I've seen today coming back straight into the garage after such a situation and shaking everybody's hand, giving a little clap of support, it just leaves me with my mouth open."

Hamilton said: "That's very warming, to hear that from Toto - someone I respect highly and who has been a real part of this journey that I'm on.

"It is just a part of the growing process.

"Since I've been in F1, my friends have been: 'You don't know who you are, and I guess searching for yourself.'

"I just feel comfortable in who I am and I'm happy. I don't really know how to explain it.

"It's definitely a positive; there's no negatives in it. I hope it can reflect in a much better result than it's looking like at the moment this year."

Chinese Grand Prix qualifying results