Lewis Hamilton explains qualifying downfall after Chinese GP Sprint podium

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton with his head down as he walks past the Red Bull garage

Lewis Hamilton with his head down as he walks past the Red Bull garage

Lewis Hamilton went from the podium in the Sprint in China to dropping out of Q1 in qualifying hours later, the Briton blaming that on experimental set-up changes.

Hamilton began his Saturday at the Shanghai International Circuit smiling having led nine laps of the Sprint before finishing in second place after which he declared Mercedes had made a “huge step, a huge improvement”.

Lewis Hamilton undone by Mercedes experiments

But hours later his joy had turned to misery as Hamilton failed to progress out of Q1, finishing qualifying down in 18th place.

The seven-time World Champion was knocked out of qualifying by 0.116s having made a mistake at the hairpin as he struggled to get his Mercedes slowed for the corner.

That, it has been suggested by former F1 driver Karun Chandhok, cost him six-tenths of a second which would’ve been enough for P5 in Q1.

“Massive changes since qualifying,” Hamilton admitted of his struggles. “It wasn’t too bad in some places but I struggled, I couldn’t get it to stop in 14. So it is what it is.”

The 39-year-old revealed Mercedes experimented with the set-up of his W15, he and his team-mate George Russell going in opposite directions.

For Hamilton, it just didn’t work out.

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

F1 penalty points: Fernando Alonso hit with another hefty punishment

“This morning, George and I had very similar cars but then this afternoon we’re trying to experiment still with the car,” he said.

“I went one way, a long way, and he went the other way, just to see if we can find anything.

“That’s what we need to do at the moment. But yeah, it didn’t work.”

Hamilton has his work cut out for him scoring points in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix with the Briton conceding that just when he thinks it cannot get any worse, “it did”.

“I’ll give it my best shot,” he said of Sunday’s ambitions. “18th is pretty bad. When I was making the set-up changes, I was like, it can’t get any worse, surely, and it did!

“So shit happens.”

Lewis Hamilton responds to Nico Rosberg criticism

Meanwhile, Hamilton also weighed in on complaints that he hadn’t done enough to defend against Max Verstappen in the Sprint.

Leading the race, Hamilton was overtaken Verstappen at the hairpin on lap nine with the Briton’s former team-mate Nico Rosberg criticising him for not defending.

“Close the door Lewis, then go aggressive… just properly close it. Pity to just let him through so easily,” the 2016 World Champion told Sky Sports.

Hamilton responded to that saying there was no way he wasn’t going to keep Verstappen in the rampant RB20 behind him.

“I didn’t even put up a fight for Max because he was coming at a serious, serious pace advantage that I knew he would he would get me,” he said as per Total-Motorsport.com.

Read next: Chinese GP: Max Verstappen back on pole position as ‘disaster’ befalls Lewis Hamilton in qualifying