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Wolff rubbishes Hamilton claim after Chinese GP exit

Lewis Hamilton was dumped out of Q1 for the first time in over a year at the 2024 Chinese GP

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Toto Wolff hit back at Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, claiming his Q1 exit was due to driver error rather than a problem with the setup on the Mercedes W15 as George Russell qualified eighth.

Immediately afterwards, Hamilton said the exit was due to him and Russell diverging in setups to help Mercedes investigate where they’re lagging behind Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and even Aston Martin.

However, while confirming the setup split, Wolff believed Hamilton should’ve been able to make it out of Q1 had he not made a huge mistake at the end of the monster Shanghai International Circuit back straight.

“We decided to make some big set-up changes between the Sprint and Qualifying to try and improve the car’s low-speed performance,” Wolff told the media. “The drivers chose to go in pretty different directions to support our learning process, but it clearly didn’t work for us today on a single lap.

Lewis would have progressed comfortably out of Q1 without a lock-up in Turn 14 that cost him more than half-a-second. George made it through to Q3 solidly but had just one set of new tyres available.

“He set his fastest lap of the session, but like two weeks ago in Suzuka, was at the back of a close group where a couple of tenths equate to four or five grid positions. We now need to focus on racing and recovering strongly tomorrow and moving forwards with both cars.”

Wolff: Mercedes outperformed ourselves in Chinese GP sprint

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

It wasn’t all doom and gloom in China for Mercedes though, as Hamilton secured second in the sprint race to record the team’s first podium finish of the 2024 Formula 1 season.

However, given the seven-time champion’s lowly grid position for the main event, the team’s main hopes will rest on Russell to at least keep Mercedes ahead of Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship as they extended their advantage to nine points in the sprint.

“It was great to be able to hang onto P2 with Lewis in the Sprint and for George to make enough places up to get into the points. However, neither driver was happy with the car,” Mercedes‘ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin added.

“The wind rotated overnight and made the balance very inconsistent, in some corners we were suffering with understeer and in others the rear was very weak. To try to address that, we made extensive changes to both cars going into qualifying.

“The car was quite different and ultimately that caught Lewis out in Q1 with a big lock into the hairpin on his final lap. Without that he would have gone through comfortably.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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