Lewis Hamilton at odds with Toto Wolff despite Chinese GP sprint shock

The 39-year-old will start on the front row behind pole sitter Lando Norris for Saturday's F1 Sprint Race in Shanghai


Lewis Hamilton believes he maintains a chance of winning the F1 Sprint at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday – but only if the conditions are wet again after finishing second in a rain-hit sprint qualifying session.

The Mercedes star looked to be heading for his first pole position since Hungary in 2023 before McLaren’s Lando Norris punched in the quickest lap time by 1.3 seconds.

Norris briefly had his lap time deleted for a track limits infringement, before the FIA communicated that it had been reinstated as he did not gain an advantage from his venture off the track on the previous lap.

It secured a rare British front row for Norris and Hamilton with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in third, while Max Verstappen could only manage fourth after struggling on the intermediate tyres.

Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Japanese GP | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton will start second in the F1 Sprint in China | Mercedes / LAT Images

And Hamilton was visibly delighted with his performance in the downpour, after admitting that his car was not quick enough in dry conditions to be competitive.

“It was very tricky. Not a lot of grip for everyone but I’m so happy,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “As soon as I saw the rain coming I got excited because in the dry we were not quick enough, so when the rain came I thought we would have a better opportunity and that’s when it came alive.”

Disagreement at Mercedes

When asked if he has a chance of securing his first win in the F1 Sprint, Hamilton was much more cautious and believes his chances could rest firmly on whether the rain falls again.

“It really depends on what the conditions will be. If it’s like that, we will have a chance of being somewhere up there,” Hamilton added. “If it’s dry, the Ferraris and Red Bulls will come by but maybe we can hold off some of the others.”

Unlike his team-mate, George Russell couldn’t find the pace to make it into SQ3 after qualifying 11th, with the rain increasing in intensity. But in disagreeing with Hamilton’s view, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident the Silver Arrows have the pace in dry conditions.

“The driving is most important in the wet but I think it shows it’s about tyre preparation,” Wolff said after the session. “We did the right thing on the final run. The tyres were in the sweet spot, combined with great drive at the right time.

“I think we should have the pace in the dry. I don’t think we have the pace against the Red Bulls, but we are I think against the McLarens. But having said that, also we don’t know, because we have no data from FP1. It could be that they are much weaker or the other way around.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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