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Hamilton confident despite penalty at Chinese GP

By Justin Bergman

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 12 2012 6:45 a.m. MDT

McLaren Formula One driver's Lewis Hamilton, left, and Jenson Button of Britain smile at a sponsors function at the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, China, Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press

SHANGHAI, China — Lewis Hamilton is hoping his McLaren will be quick enough to compete for victory at the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend despite receiving a five-place grid penalty for needing to change his gearbox.

Hamilton showed that his car has plenty of pace by winning back-to-back poles at the Australian and Malaysian GPs to start the Formula One season. However, the highest he can now start in Sunday's Chinese GP is sixth.

Hamilton said his team discovered the gearbox problem in the last couple of days.

McLaren's confidence is still high after securing three podium finishes in the first two races of the season, with Jenson Button capturing the Australian GP and Hamilton twice finishing in third.

McLaren's strong start suggests it has closed the gap with Red Bull, the dominant team last year.

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