Hamilton facing grid penalty in Bahrain for gearbox change

After losing out to Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne, Lewis Hamilton will now begin the Bahrain Grand Prix with a grid penalty.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton is set to incur a five-place grid penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix after the FIA confirmed the Mercedes driver will have a new gearbox fitted ahead of Saturday's final free practice session.

After finishing second to Sebastian Vettel at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, reigning world champion Hamilton is hoping to make up ground this weekend.

Yet he now faces a stiff challenge to triumph in Bahrain, with the FIA's technical delegate confirming his penalty on Friday.

A subsequent tweet from Mercedes read: "We had a hydraulic leak during the #AusGP and were fortunate to finish the race. Unfortunately the team couldn't repair the gearbox within the six-race cycle so need to take a fresh one, incurring the grid penalty."

Hamilton's team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, will also start in Bahrain with a new gearbox, but can make his change without punishment after a penalty in Australia last time out. Replacement gearboxes can be replaced again without sanction prior to FP3 in the next event.

Similarly, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are able to start with new gearboxes having failed to finish in Melbourne.