Hamilton gets grid penalty at Chinese GP for gearbox change

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SHANGHAI (AP) Reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton must take a five grid-place penalty at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix because of an early switch of gearbox.

His Mercedes team confirmed the penalty on its Twitter feed Thursday.

The previous gearbox was impacted by the first-corner collision Hamilton had at the Bahrain Grand Prix, prompting the team to make the change inside the six-race limit and triggering the penalty.

Mercedes says it was “not the ideal start to the Chinese GP weekend admittedly … but of all the places to take a grid hit, this is one of the better ones” because of the strong overtaking opportunities at the Shanghai circuit.

Hamilton is 17 points behind teammate Nico Rosberg, who won the season’s opening two races.