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Hamilton hit with grid penalty ahead of China GP.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton, seen in the pit lane ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Sakhir circuit in Manama, on April 3, 2016. PHOTO/AFP.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s British driver Lewis Hamilton, seen in the pit lane ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Sakhir circuit in Manama, on April 3, 2016. PHOTO/AFP.

SHANGHAI, April 14 – Lewis Hamilton has been handed a five-place grid penalty ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix after electing to change his gearbox.

The Briton’s Mercedes team has revealed that Hamilton’s gearbox was damaged during the Bahrain GP two weeks ago, and as such it will be replaced.

The move appears to be in part strategic, with the team adding that they felt that Shanghai provided the best opportunity for Hamilton to take the penalty and still achieve a postive result.

“Of the next 4 tracks in the normal cycle, Shanghai is the best place to make the change and take the resulting grid penalty,” Mercedes tweeted.

“The Shanghai International Circuit has good overtaking opportunities, so plenty of chance for Hamilton.”

The news comes a blow to Hamilton who has been outshone thus far in the 2016 campaign by team-mate Nico Rosberg. While Hamilton was able to secure pole at both the season-opener in Australia and last time out in Bahrain, it was Rosberg who stood on the top step of the podium when all was said and done.

Despite the setback, Mercedes remain confident that Hamilton will be able to overcome the penalty.

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