Hamilton cites set-up error for qualifying let down


Starting the Chinese Grand Prix from 18th, Lewis Hamilton still targets having some fun.

It was something of a rollercoaster Saturday for the seven-time world champion.

In the morning he finished second to Max Verstappen in the Sprint, only to fail to make it out of Q1 in the afternoon qualifying session.

"I just struggled," he told reporters, "I made massive changes coming into this qualifying. It wasn't too bad in some places, but I struggled, I couldn't get the rear to stop in Turn 14, so... it is what it is. I'll have fun from back there.

"Going in this morning, George and I had very similar cars but then this afternoon, we just switched, trying to experiment still with the car," he continued.

"So I went one way - a long way - and he went the other way, just to see if we can find anything," he added. "That's what we need to do at the moment... But it didn't work.

"I'll give it my best shot," he said of tomorrow's race. "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!

"S*** happens," laughed.

At Red Bull, Sergio Perez also pointed to poor set-up after almost also falling at the first hurdle in qualifying, when he claimed 15th by the skin of his teeth.

"I didn't have a good run in my first run of Q3, which really set me back," said the Mexican. "I don't know what happened.

"Obviously the tyres were a little bit cooler and it was just a step worse," he continued, "we were playing around with the front wing. So it just felt like it put us on the back foot for my final run.

"Then, all of a sudden, in the final run I think the track was just getting quite a bit better and I managed to put a good lap together.

"I think just all the way to that lap, it had been a very messy qualifying starting from Q1, you know, I nearly was knocked out. I had traffic on my first attempt with the Williams and had to come back to the pits. So, yeah, I was just out of position a lot of the time.

"And with the change of wind, it was important to be out there at the right time to make sure that you get that progression, that learning from these new conditions.

"We did suffer a lot with the tyre deg and with rear deg," he admitted. "So yeah just making sure that we were able to have a more stable platform which was important. But obviously that doesn't come for free, you know, then you're making other compromises in different sort of corner speeds.

"I just couldn't get a good read through the conditions. I think my first proper lap was in Q2, run two, and then run one in Q3 was quite far off.

"So yeah, it wasn't the smoothest qualifying session out there, but it still is a good result for tomorrow."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Shanghai here.

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Published: 20/04/2024
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