Penalty for Hamilton

Penalty for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton's hopes of a hat-trick of pole positions disappeared at the Chinese Grand Prix on Thursday when McLaren said he would collect a five place penalty on the starting grid for an unscheduled gearbox change. 

The 2008 Formula One world champion has yet to win this season despite starting the first two races in Australia and Malaysia on pole. The Briton won in China last year and is the only driver to have won twice in Shanghai since the race was added to the calendar in 2004. A spokesman said Hamilton would use the car's existing gearbox for Friday practice before having it switched out for Saturday. "It doesn't alter my approach at all.

I'll approach it exactly the same," Hamilton said of qualifying and Sunday's race. "I still have to qualify as high as possible. And then in the race... well, I won from third last year so now I just have to win from further back." The forced change, which incurs an automatic penalty, means McLaren will also be unable to lock out the front row for the third race in succession. Race stewards dismissed a protest by the Lotus Formula One team on Thursday against the rear wing system used by rivals Mercedes. 

“The stewards decided unanimously that the protest is dismissed,” the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement. 

The formal protest had been issued earlier with the signature of Alan Permane, the trackside operations director of the former Renault team. 

The protest related to the controversial rear wing which was declared legal for the first two races of the season and was passed again by scrutineers in Shanghai on Thursday. Lotus had asserted that the wing broke article 3.15 of the technical regulations that says “any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.” 

Mercedes, with seven-times champion Michael Schumacher and fellow German Nico Rosberg, scored just one point in the first two races but have sounded more confident about China. The rear wing contains slots on the inside of the endplates that are revealed when the driver-activated drag reduction system (DRS) is used for overtaking, increasing aerodynamic downforce. 

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