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Hamilton blames wind for Q1 error as Mercedes "experiment"

Lewis Hamilton blamed a tailwind for the Turn 14 moment that pitched him out of Q1 for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix in his “knife-edge” Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Just hours after Hamilton had delivered his best result of the season so far as he finished second in the Shanghai sprint, he came crashing back to earth as he failed to make it out of the first session of qualifying.

Having braked too deep at Turn 14 thanks to the tailwind, Hamilton lost crucial time and was knocked out as he ended up 18th on the grid.

Reflecting on what happened, he said the error was down to him rather than there being anything wrong with the car.

“I don't blame anything on the team,” he said. “I think not my best qualifying laps.”

But while the rollercoaster of emotions from the highs of the morning to the lows of the afternoon was not easy to comprehend, Hamilton said it was nothing to be too worried about.

“Shit happens you know,” he said. “Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. This car is on a knife edge, as we know, so it can easily do what we've had. But I'll have some fun from there.”

Reflecting on the progress of his W15 this weekend, Hamilton said that the team had elected to do something bold when parc ferme opened after the sprint – although it appeared to have not paid off.

“We made massive changes going into qualifying,” he said. “We just wanted to experiment. So George [Russell] decided to go one way, much different to what we had because we worked pretty much with the same before.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“Then I went this other direction just to see if we can find something. It didn't feel terrible. I just couldn't stop the car in Turn 14."

Russell played down the differences between the cars, however, although he said the step from the sprint had been quite dramatic.

“We're pretty similar on set-ups, and we both went in a similar direction,” he explained. “There was a small difference but directionally very similar between the two of us.

“We both made big changes from the sprint race. And that is: if we optimise everything this weekend, maybe we would have finished P3, P4, P5, in qualifying. But we still wouldn't be content with that.

“We want to fight for victories and championships, hopefully, the minimum next year, and sometimes you need to sacrifice in the short term to make some greater gains down the line.

“We are still trying to find the development path we need to be on to make some big steps. And that's just where we are at the moment.”

Russell made it through to Q3 and ended up 8th on the grid, having lamented needing to use an extra set of tyres in Q2 as a result of Carlos Sainz’s crash.

“It was a bit of a shame, Q2, because my first lap was strong enough for P3 until the last corner when Carlos brought the red.

“Then you need to use another set of tyres, and then [you have] only one set in Q3. At the end of the day, this is where we are at the moment as a team.

“If you nail it, you'll be at the front of that group. If you're on the back foot, you'll be at the back of that group. And that's what we found ourselves within the last couple of races.”

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