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Hamilton: Penalty won’t stop me targeting win

14 Apr 2016

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton insists the China weekend will not be another of damage limitation, despite his having to drop five places on the grid thanks to a gearbox-change penalty.

Hamilton’s season hasn’t got off to a great start, with problems in the two opening races holding him back to second- and third-place finishes, as team mate Nico Rosberg has won both.

Nevertheless, the world champion says he will be firmly aiming for his 44th win on Sunday: "Of course when you hear on the Wednesday morning that you're arriving at the weekend with a penalty already, that changes the approach to the weekend, your mind set.

“But for me a challenge is an opportunity to rise, so I'm really excited about this opportunity, from where I'm going to start hopefully in the best possible position with the penalty. I love racing, and it's a race this weekend - rather than being at the front and have less of a race.”

Hamilton’s gearbox sustained internal damage in Bahrain, where he collided with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Mercedes opted to change it now rather than at a subsequent race, as overtaking is deemed to be easier in Shanghai than at other circuits.

The Englishman’s misfortune adds spice to the world championship fight, in which he already trails Rosberg by 17 points despite beating him to pole position in the season’s two opening races, and will hand an advantage to Ferrari on a track on which they already fancy their chances.

"It’s going to be an easy weekend for Nico for sure,” said Hamilton. “But it doesn't mean I can't give him a good run for his money from wherever I start. I'll be pushing as hard as I can... It doesn't mean I can't win the race still, which is my thought process, rather than damage limitation."

Of his difficult start to the year, he added: "It's a little bit different to 2014 as far as I can remember. I was catching up already from the second race, wasn't I? Which I've not been doing [since], so 2016 is a little different. But it's a challenge, and I enjoy that.”

Hamilton is the most successful driver in Chinese Grand Prix history with a total of four wins - in 2008 and 2011 with McLaren, and in 2014 and 2015 with Mercedes.