Shanghai: Lewis Hamilton's hopes of a hat-trick of pole positions disappeared at the Chinese Grand Prix on Thursday when McLaren said he would collect a five place penalty on the starting grid for an unscheduled gearbox change.

The 2008 Formula One world champion has yet to win this season despite starting the first two races in Australia and Malaysia on pole.

The Briton won in China last year and is the only driver to have won twice in Shanghai since the race was added to the calendar in 2004.

A spokesman said Hamilton would use the car's existing gearbox for Friday practice before having it switched out for Saturday.

"It doesn't alter my approach at all. I'll approach it exactly the same," Hamilton said of qualifying and Sunday's race.

"I still have to qualify as high as possible. And then in the race... well, I won from third last year so now I just have to win from further back."

The forced change, which incurs an automatic penalty, means McLaren will also be unable to lock out the front row for the third race in succession.

(Agencies)