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Hamilton ‘grateful just to get points’ in China as Russell admits Mercedes have ‘work to do’ before Miami

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Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had to make do with a handful of points in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after a rollercoaster weekend for the team that included the high of a top-three finish in the Sprint race and the low of a Q1 exit in qualifying.

Hamilton and Mercedes started the event in fine form with a run to second in a dramatic, rain-hit Sprint Qualifying session, which the Briton retained in the dry Sprint that followed, only for subsequent set-up changes to derail the rest of their weekend.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Chinese Grand Prix as Verstappen takes victory while Safety Car sparks dramatic restart

Indeed, Hamilton dropped out in the first phase during qualifying for the Grand Prix amid balance struggles, forcing him into a recovery drive from 18th to ninth, three places behind team mate Russell, who rose from eighth to sixth.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after stepping out of the cockpit, the seven-time world champion commented: “I’m grateful to just get to the points. I didn’t honestly expect a lot more this weekend.

“Hopefully we have some steps forward coming in the next race. Until then we’ll be back in the factory next week, just try and position the car a bit better for Miami and hopefully have a better weekend.”

‘I was pretty slow’ laments Hamilton after run from 18th to P9 in Shanghai

Hamilton then opened up on the radio messages he sent to the Mercedes pit wall early in the race, having complained about the state of his tyres – as one of a handful of drivers to start on softs – and described the car’s pace as “so slow”.

“I thought maybe at the beginning that I’d tapped someone, because I’ve never had so much understeer in my life, so I was turning in the low-speed and just waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting,” he said.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails ‘amazing’ weekend in China as he takes victory amid multiple restarts

“I thought maybe that I’d damaged something like some of the other [drivers], because debris was going everywhere at one point, but it was just the set-up that I chose.”

Asked to sum up his start to the season, Hamilton added: “It’s the worst one so far, as I mentioned [in Australia], but we had a second obviously in the Sprint. With some better decisions on set-up we’d be around where George is, but we just have to keep fighting.”

Russell, meanwhile, admitted that there was little more on offer to Mercedes at the Shanghai International Circuit as he crossed the line behind the two Red Bulls, the McLaren of Lando Norris and the Ferrari drivers.

Russell on his China finish: ‘The result is probably a fair one’

“Starting P8 and moving forward a couple of positions, that’s sort of where we were hoping and expecting to finish considering the performance we’ve been showing,” he said, having cleared the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and the McLaren of Oscar Piastri. “I think the result is probably a fair one.

“What we’ve seen, we know we have work to do. It was good to have the Sprint format this weekend; we had two very different set-ups on the car, Friday and Saturday morning versus Saturday afternoon and today. [There’s] lots to pick through and build from.”

READ MORE: Norris thrilled with ‘surprise’ Chinese GP podium as he reveals pre-race Ferrari bet

Russell was then asked if the two parc ferme periods in play last weekend – which allowed teams to make those aforementioned set-up changes between the Sprint and qualifying for the Grand Prix – helped Mercedes gain a better understanding of their current package.

“I think so,” he added. “I think it’s been quite good for everybody to have that opportunity to try something between the two sessions. I think in both races P6 is probably where we deserved to finish, so we’ve been one way with the car, another way with the car, we just need to keep on building some performance to it.”

Mercedes leave China holding fourth position in the constructors’ standings, 12 points ahead of fifth-placed Aston Martin and 44 behind third-placed McLaren.

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