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Hamilton hit with 5-place grid penalty for Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton trails Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the standings.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton powers through a corner during qualifying for the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 19 March 2016. Picture: AFP.

BEIJING - 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 on photo sharing site Instagram alongside a picture of fans welcoming him at the 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 gearbox 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 Hamilton on the back foot heading into a race in which he hopes to score his first win of the season and end team-mate 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.

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