Lewis Hamilton hit with five-place grid penalty

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton waiting on Liberty proposals

Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton is set to drop five places on the grid from wherever he qualifies at the Bahrain Grand Prix due to an unscheduled gearbox change.

Mercedes confirmed that Hamilton had a hydraulic leak during the season-opening Australian GP which he was "fortunate to finish the race" with, and the team couldn't fix the gearbox for a six-race cycle.

A Mercedes statement on Twitter said: 'We had a hydraulic leak during the #AusGP and were fortunate to finish the race.

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"It will be great to know how it is going to sit for us", he said of Liberty's proposal which will be made clear to the teams tomorrow. "I think it will be a tough weekend".

Lewis Hamilton is in no rush to sign his new deal with Mercedes after stating this contract could be the "most important" one of his career. "So you could argue that it's a little bit of power but then a little bit of downforce".

The setback means Hamilton, who struggled in Friday practice for the desert race, will start Sunday's race no higher than sixth even if he were to qualify on pole position. "So we can already see from the Friday running you have more grip in every single lap, the auto balance is changing, so we need to make estimations for the next sessions, the next runs and it's going to be the same thing tomorrow".

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The spokesperson added: "This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone's data".

Briefing reporters ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the 33-year-old Briton said he wanted to see what the sport would be like in 2020 and beyond before he reached a final decision.

"We've got more to do overnight and in the session tomorrow to give us a vehicle that will allow us to have a good fight in qualifying and on Sunday".

More worrying for Mercedes was the outcome of FP2, which was held under the floodlights at Bahrain International Circuit.

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With all this in mind, the hard-hitting Trinidadian should be an excellent fantasy pick. "So far we stand in a good position". The defending champions will face arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings in the opener of the 10th edition.

"The vehicle feels okay, but we still need to find some pace, especially for a single lap". But their hopes of making it six straight on Saturday now lie with Bottas alone.

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