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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton assesses qualifying chances after ‘huge step’ in China sprint

The Mercedes driver claimed second place in Shanghai to equal his best sprint race result.

Hamilton China I
To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton has played down his qualifying hopes for the Chinese Grand Prix despite a "huge step" in the sprint race.

From second on the grid, Hamilton forced Lando Norris wide at Turn 2 to move to the head of the pack and lead his first sprint laps at the 13th attempt but was passed by Max Verstappen at the hairpin with the aid of the DRS on Lap 9 of 19.

Verstappen went on to win by 13.043s as Hamilton bagged his best result of the season and nearly doubled his points tally for the entire season with the seven on offer for second place.

With grand prix qualifying following the sprint, the seven-time champion felt a step in the right direction had been made, but did not believe he could fight for pole position for the weekend's main event.

Hamilton's verdict

"I am super happy and grateful, of course we couldn't fight the Red Bulls today, but this is a huge step, a huge improvement," Hamilton explained.

"At least with the rain, it really helps, and the race was tough, and if I was further back, I would have struggled to progress, but I found out a lot about the car in this race, so I am excited.

"We're still not as quick as on a single lap as the Ferrari and Red Bulls, and I think the McLarens are ahead of us for sure, and possibly the Astons.

"We're very close to the Aston's, but I don't anticipate we'll be fighting for the front-row [in qualifying].

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

Team boss Toto Wolff was also realistic heading into grand prix qualifying.

"The performance was there, so we will take the positives, but realistically, these guys behind fought with each other and held each other up," he told Viaplay.

"We are a top six car, this is what we need to acknowledge and work from here."

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