The weekend in China hasn’t even started yet, but Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was handed a huge gift on Thursday. Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton was handed a five position grid penalty by Formula One today due to a gear box change ahead of the upcoming race weekend. That’s a big blow to the two-time defending world champion as Hamilton was hoping China would kickstart him back into gear and get himself back into the championship hunt.
The opening two races of the 2016 season has seen Hamilton struggle on the start of each race. He’s rebounded to finish second in both instances, but his teammate Rosberg has won both times and has a five race win streak going dating back to last season.
But, Hamilton has dominated the Chinese Grand Prix as he won the last two years and has a record four victories at the Shanghai track. Another win would certainly help close some ground on Rosberg, but now he must come from further back to do so.
In fact, Hamilton has just one career victory with a starting spot outside of the top four. With this grid penalty, the best he can start is sixth as it will be just the second time in the last 30 starts that he didn’t start on the front row.
With it all but certain that he will likely start sixth, he’s going to have to charge hard on the opening lap and make moves that will put him in harms way on the start of the race.
Unfortunately, he’s 2-for-2 in misfortunes at the race start this year. He’s in danger of being 3-for-3 on Sunday.