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Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes in Hamilton admission over China performance

The team have offered their reflections of Lewis Hamilton's Shanghai performance, where he finished second in the sprint and ninth in the race.

Hamilton China I
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To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes' James Allison has admitted that he did not expect Lewis Hamilton to hold onto second place in the Chinese Grand Prix sprint, given the car deficit the team has.

Hamilton qualified in second for Saturday's shorter race in Shanghai, the first time he's been on the front-row since pole position in Hungary last season, and led into Turn 1 after forcing Lando Norris wide.

He and Fernando Alonso broke away, but were both eventually passed by Max Verstappen, who went onto win the race, and the grand prix itself the next day.

But Hamilton held onto second, for his best sprint race result since the first one at the 2021 British Grand Prix, and best result in any F1 event since a second place finish in Mexico City, 11 events ago.

It was not something Mercedes expected him to do.

"If I’m honest, no, I didn’t expect that we would hang on to P2 because I don’t think the car’s quick enough to merit that at the moment," Allison explained.

"The rain was a tricky thing for everybody in sprint qualifying. I think we’ve got to take our hats off to Lewis for absolutely getting it together in incredibly difficult circumstances in that sprint qualifying and cars were going off the track left, right and centre.

After a slow start, Verstappen quickly passed Alonso for second, with the Aston Martin driver then suffering a lack of pace compared to Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris tucked in behind.

Alonso was leading a DRS train, although Sainz eventually got by before contact with Alonso allowed Perez to snare third and Leclerc fourth, with Allison putting Hamilton's second down to the blocking of the Spanish driver, rather than the pure pace of the W15.

"He hit it very cleanly and deserved that place, that P2 on the grid. But in the dry conditions of the sprint race, I felt we were likely to get swallowed up by the two Red Bulls, by others as well, because we do have a pace difference to the leading cars at the moment and there’s no point denying that," he added.

"However, we were, I think, a little bit, you know, things went our way a little bit with the way that Norris fell off the pace, did a poor start and disappeared backwards.

"And with Fernando then being at the head of the faster cars, they took a while to find their way past him and that bought us some breathing space.

"I don't want to downplay the achievement because I think it was a very, very well-controlled drive by Lewis who got the absolute max out of the car in that day and it was a welcome tonic for all of us to first of all, put the car in a decent grid slot and then bring it to the flag in that same position.

"But I think the circumstances of the race helped us a little bit with Fernando acting as that buffer between us and the faster guys."

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