Lewis Hamilton hails Mercedes ‘step forward’ despite worrying Red Bull assessment

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton holds aloft his P2 award in China

Lewis Hamilton holds aloft his P2 award in China

Recording his best result in a long time, Lewis Hamilton applauded Mercedes’ Chinese Sprint as a “step forward” but concedes they “of course” cannot fight Red Bull.

Hamilton finished on the podium in Saturday’s Sprint having overtaken pole-sitter Lando Norris off the line to lead his first-ever laps in the shortened format.

‘Of course, we couldn’t fight the Red Bull today…’

However, a mistake at the hairpin on lap nine allowed the charging Max Verstappen to close up on his rear wing with the Red Bull driver immediately pouncing.

With DRS in play, Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the next lap to take the lead and ultimately the win.

Such was the Red Bull’s pace, that he won the race by 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton, effectively pulling clear by more than a second per lap.

But back on the podium, Hamilton was still smiling as he accepted Red Bull’s pace advantage.

“That’s the best result I’ve had in a long time,” he said after the Sprint. “I’m super happy and grateful.

“Of course we couldn’t fight the Red Bull today but this is a huge step, a huge improvement.

“The race was tough and had I started further back I would have struggled to progress. But I found out a lot about the car through this short stint for the race so I’m excited for tomorrow.”

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Next up on the weekend’s schedule is qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix where Hamilton concedes he won’t be fighting for a front-row spot.

In fact, he reckons Mercedes are slower than Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren when it comes to qualifying pace.

“We’re still not as quick on the single lap as the Ferraris, the Red Bulls. The McLarens are headed of us for sure, and possibly the Astons,” he said..

“We’re probably very close to the Astons, we’ll see today, so I don’t anticipate we’ll be fighting for the front row.

“But the fortunate thing is we can make some adjustments so hopefully I can improve the car in the next three hours and hopefully have a better qualifying session than we have had in the past.”

Under F1’s revised Sprint weekend regulations, the teams can make changes to the cars between the Sprint and qualifying.

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