As if 15th on the grid wasn't a bad enough start to Lewis Hamilton's Formula One world title defence, subsequent investigations by the McLaren team have discovered a problem that will ensure the Briton will line-up 20th and last for the Australian Grand Prix.

Having scraped through the opening phase of qualifying in 15th spot, Hamilton was denied the chance to improve his position when a gearbox gremlin was revealed before he could take to track in Q2. Resigned to lining up on the inside of row eight, the Briton admitted at the time that things could get worse depending on what his crew found had caused the problem.

Although it had been hoped that issue was minor, the team admitted that its investigations had led to the decision to replace the entire gearbox, resulting in the five-place penalty that is incurred if a team's part cannot last the required four races.

"A gear catastrophically failed," team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed after the session had finished, "We will be changing the 'box, so we're going to take the hit of that and Lewis will start from 20th place tomorrow."

Hamilton had already been expecting to struggle 'down under' after the MP4-24 failed to perform in pre-season testing, and had vowed to come out fighting on Sunday.

"Something broke on the rear of my car on my second flying lap in Q1 - I just lost all drive in the gearbox and couldn't continue," he explained, "However, I'm determined to drive an attacking race tomorrow."



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