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Lewis Hamilton says grid penalties could derail his chances of retaining the Formula One world championship.
Hamilton trails his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by 24 points after the opening eight races, and the 2015 world champion faces an uphill task in overtaking Rosberg in the championship table following a number of engine failures this season.
The Briton, who suffered two identical failures of the MGU-H energy recovery system in Russia and China, is now using a fifth power unit for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, the last free replacement before grid penalties are imposed.
And Hamilton expects to need at least two more engine changes in the final 13 races of the seasons.
"I am starting with my last engine this weekend, so that means I will have at least one race where I will start dead last and most likely two," he said.
"So two more fresh engines. The worst thing is I am the only Mercedes driver to have that. For sure its difficult for the team and especially since we are the Mercedes team and if there are 40 engines you would expect us to have the best of the 40.
"That’s the way it goes and I have to do the best I can with the one I have now and the ones that follow."
Hamilton hopes to take the engine penalties on tracks where he can possibly make up the shortfall - the world champion has done it before this season, finishing seventh in China after starting 22nd on the grid, and second from 10th in Russia.
"I will find out where I take those penalties," he said.
"I will try to find a circuit where I feel like I can get furthest up and maybe a track where I can catch up and even challenge for a win. That’s my thought process. I have to go into it thinking I can still win it.
"There could be safety cars and all sorts. I try to have an optimistic view on it, but it’s not that easy to overtake in some places so the percentage chances of Nico winning and me finishing further back is higher. But I will try to minimise, firstly, the engines I will take."