“I have never had so much understeer in my life” — Hamilton left to rue set-up choice for F1 Chinese GP with P9 finish

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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It was a weekend of mixed feelings for Lewis Hamilton. Friday saw him have a promising Sprint Qualifying in a wet Shanghai where he ended up in P2. He finished the Sprint Race on the second step of the podium behind a dominant Max Verstappen.

It was a very different situation he faced in Sunday’s race. After a difficult qualifying session, the Mercedes driver started the Chinese Grand Prix from 18th on the grid on soft tyres.

The Brit said, “that was the worst tyre, man” after switching to the mediums.

Hamilton explained afterwards why he felt that was the case.

“Oh my god, I was the only one I think on the soft [Stroll, Tsunoda and Sargeant also did] and it fell apart after lap one. It was very difficult.

“I thought maybe at the beginning I tapped someone because I have never had so much understeer in my life, so I was turning in at slow speed and waiting, waiting, waiting.

“So I thought I had damaged something like some of the others because there was debris going everywhere at one point, but it was just the set-up that I chose.

“With better decisions on set-up, maybe we would be around where George [Russell] is, but we just have to keep fighting.”

Following some neat moves into turn 9 in the first part of the race, Hamilton found himself in P13 when the Safety Car first came out. He benefitted from the Ricciardo and Stroll crash to gain another 2 spots.

The 103-time Grand Prix winner and seven-time World Champion cleared Esteban Ocon and Nico Hülkenberg to ultimately cross the line in P9 once Fernando Alonso came through on his fresh mediums.

Hamilton believes they can take a lot of data from Shanghai with the set-up experiments tried. Ultimately, it’s about adding downforce and performance to the car to make big gains.

“It definitely wasn’t better than expected. We expected to be somewhere around there today.

“Hopefully we have some step forward coming in next race. Until then, we’ll be back in a factory next week trying to position the car better for Miami and hopefully we have a better weekend.

“This weekend, we know where we’re falling out, the last three races we were kind of in the battle with Fernando and [Oscar] Piastri as well. P6 is where we are right now.

“It was an interesting weekend managing to have two different set-ups on the car between Friday and Sunday. So, some info to go through but ultimately we just need to dig into the data and just keep on adding performance to the car.”

On a separate note about the tyres, Hamilton gave a damming assessment of the current Pirelli tyres and how the high pressures are. Another 1 psi was added between qualifying and the race.

“The tyre pressures are so high. These are the worst I think we’ve had.