‘Never in my life’ – Lewis Hamilton laments understeering Mercedes W15 after China woes

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15 at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15.

Lewis Hamilton said he thought he had damage such was the understeer experienced in his Mercedes, as he crossed the line P9 at the Chinese Grand Prix.

After his shock Q1 elimination on Saturday, Mercedes and Hamilton went down a different, bold route on strategy by starting on the soft tyre, though initial progress from P18 on the grid was limited, Hamilton even dropping a position at the start as he confirmed that the soft compound “fell apart after Lap 1”.

Set-up issue left Lewis Hamilton battling unprecedented understeer

Hamilton was ultimately able to rise up the order once those soft tyres were out of the way, crossing the line a respectable P9, though Hamilton felt team-mate George Russell – three places up the road in P6 – was in the region where he too should have been looking to finish.

“I thought maybe at the beginning I tapped someone because I have never had so much understeer in my life, so I was turning in at slow speed and waiting, waiting, waiting,” Hamilton admitted to media after the race.

“So, I thought I had damaged something like some of the others because there was debris going everywhere at one point, but it was just the set-up that I chose.

“With better decisions on set-up, we would be around where George is, but we just have to keep fighting.”

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After the highs of his P2 finish in Saturday’s Sprint – having led the first half of the mini race – Grand Prix Sunday in China was a rough comedown for Hamilton, as he recorded his third P9 finish of the F1 2024 campaign.

The Shanghai International Circuit is a place where Hamilton has claimed victory a record six times before, as the seven-time World Champion heaped praise on the fans after F1’s first visit since 2019, as he confirmed that he “can’t wait to come back”.

“The city is great, and the fans… I saw the fans at my hotel this morning, fans that have been with me for 16 years,” he said.

“Then you see them on the track. They’ve been so supportive, it’s really beautiful to see.

“And I’m really happy that we got to come back to Shanghai, the track is awesome, so I can’t wait to come back next year.”

Hamilton – sticking with the trend – sits P9 in the Drivers’ Championship heading into the next round in Miami, which like China, will be an F1 Sprint weekend.

Read next – Toto Wolff’s troubling verdict after ‘not good enough’ result in the Chinese GP