Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will be hit with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Formula One Chinese Grand Prix due to a gearbox change, his Mercedes team confirmed on Thursday.
“This weekend is going to be tough,” Hamilton said site Instagram alongside a picture of fans welcoming him at Shanghai airport.
“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.”
The news was later confirmed by his Mercedes team, who said on Twitter they had thought Shanghai was the best place to take the penalty after the gear box was damaged in Bahrain and needed to be changed.
A driver must use a single gearbox for six consecutive events and the penalty means the highest Hamilton can start Sunday’s race is from sixth on the grid.
That puts him on the back foot heading into a race in which he hopes to score his first win of the season and end teammate Nico Rosberg’s run of five-successive victories.
Hamilton trails Rosberg, winner of the opening two races of the season, by 17 points in the standings.
He last won at the US Grand Prix in October, when he also clinched his third world championship.