‘A mistake is still a mistake’ – Ex-F1 driver calls out Lewis Hamilton’s qualy ‘excuse’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton in China, F1 starting grid.

Lewis Hamilton has yet to reach the podium in 2024

Blaming a tailwind for his Turn 14 error in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, Christian Danner says that’s nothing but an excuse as a driver of Lewis Hamilton’s calibre should be able to deal with that.

Hamilton’s Saturday at the Chinese Grand Prix was a tale of two halves as the Briton went from second in the Sprint to being eliminated from qualifying in Q1.

Christian Danner: Nothing else happened here

The Briton made a mistake on his final flying lap at the hairpin when he ran wide, costing him six-tenths of a second.

His time without the mistake would’ve been good enough for fifth place but his error meant he dropped out of qualifying in 18th place.

He blamed “massive” setup changes as Mercedes experimented ahead of qualifying, as well as a tailwind that meant he “just couldn’t stop the car in Turn 14”.

However, former F1 driver Danner believes it was “nothing else” but a mistake from the Briton.

“It’s completely normal to brake in the hairpin corner in Shanghai,” Danner told Motorsport-Magazin, “it has happened to me too.

“But if you do that in qualifying, when it comes to the marbles, it has major consequences – and nothing else happened here.”

The 66-year-old German added that claiming a tailwind played a part in his off was just an “excuse”, Hamilton made a mistake that a driver of his calibre should not be making.

“Nowadays a driver receives all the information he needs, including data about the wind,” said the former driver.

“The fact that you brake has a little to do with feeling. I don’t think you always have to find an excuse that the wind pushed you. As a driver, you still have to make sure you’re around it.

“The fact that wind is better from the front than from the back is a law of physics that has never changed on this planet.

“A driver of his calibre should be able to deal with that. A mistake is still a mistake.”

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Christian Danner: If the car doesn’t give you anything…

But while the German wasn’t impressed with Hamilton’s excuse, he concedes Mercedes’ W15 is not making it easy for the drivers.

The team is chasing performance which resulted in Saturday’s pre-qualifying experiment with Hamilton and George Russell going in opposite directions with the setup.

Hamilton was 18th while Russell qualified P8.

“If the car doesn’t give you anything, then you build to the left, to the right, up or down and see which direction is actually better,” Danner said.

“Of course, you also have to rebuild radically. You can’t move forward in micro-steps, otherwise nothing will change.”

Mercedes have scored 52 points this season and sit fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, 143 behind Red Bull after just five races.

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