Formula One: Lewis Hamilton on the back foot again in China

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We’re already heading to race three of the 2016 Formula One season, and for the first time in three years Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won either of the opening two events. The three-time world champion will have to pull it out of the bag to claim victory in China too.

Hamilton has been dealt a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change on his Mercedes W06, meaning his weekend is already compromised before it has begun.

No doubt the news brought a wry grin upon the face of team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, who has a perfect score this term with two wins from two.

Hamilton has endured a trying start to the defence of his title, and would have been hoping to kick-start his campaign in Shanghai, but his grid-penalty means Rosberg holds the advantage once more.

The German is 10/11 favourite for victory in the far East, at the Shanghai International Circuit where he claimed his first ever win in 2012.

Brit Hamilton is a four-time winner in China however, and despite knowing he cannot start any higher than sixth, he’s sure to be a factor at 11/8.

Having hovered around 1/3 and 3/10 for most races last year, it’s a rare chance to back the Mercedes ace at above evens.

Ferrari have featured strongly this year too, though reliability and bad tactical calls have ensured they’re yet to win.

Sebastian Vettel is 4/1 to claim the chequered flag on Sunday, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen available at 16s following a very strong drive to second in Bahrain.

With rain forecast for Saturday however, the real joy could lie in the fastest qualifying market.

Hamilton and Rosberg dominate the betting at 5/6 and 11/8 respectively, but there’s plenty of potential value for some each-way shouts in what is expected to be mixed-up conditions.

Raikkonen is 18/1, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is 66/1.

Romain Grosjean pulled off a 20/1 coup last time out with fifth place in Bahrain, but with the F1 circus wising up to the speed of his new Haas car, it’s just 13/8 for a repeat.

Further back, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr could be worth some interest at evens for a top-10 points finish, while Grosjean’s team-mate Esteban Gutierrez – who would have finished well up last time out but for reliability issues – is 6/4 to score some points on Sunday.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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