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‘My mistake’ admits Hamilton as he goes from leading Shanghai Sprint to Q1 exit

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Proof that Formula 1 can be a game of snakes and ladders came in the form of Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying performance for the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver getting knocked out in Q1 – having led the Sprint this morning.

An inspired performance in the wet Sprint Qualifying gave Hamilton a P2 start in the Sprint behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Hamilton going on to lead the first eight laps of the 100km dash before being passed by Max Verstappen and settling for P2.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole position for Chinese Grand Prix as he heads Perez and Alonso

With Mercedes able to change the set-up on their cars ahead of qualifying, there were then hopes that Hamilton could carry his strong performance into Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t to be, however, with Hamilton exiting in Q1 for the first time since the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – with a misjudged Turn 14 the main culprit, as Hamilton claimed P18 on the grid.

“I woulda, shoulda got through easy,” admitted Hamilton. “It was my mistake. I just struggled I think to stop the car in Turn 14, it just kept locking. Maybe I needed one more lap.”

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Asked what changes Hamilton had made to the W15 after the Sprint, the six-time Shanghai winner replied: “The car’s massively different – we changed a lot but I’m hoping tomorrow’s going to be a bit better. I hope it rains tomorrow now. The rain dance – I need everyone to do it!”

Things were slightly better for Hamilton’s team mate George Russell, who will start P8 on the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix, though the red flag in Q2 following Carlos Sainz's crash would prove a hindrance for the Mercedes man.

FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen matches Hakkinen by grabbing opening poles at five weekends

“The car was feeling okay out there,” said Russell. “I was a little bit unfortunate out there in Q2 with the red flag; obviously I didn’t get my lap in at the beginning and it was a really strong lap, and it would have meant I’d had two new sets of tyres in Q3.

“It has a knock-on effect. It’s not an excuse, it’s just it could have been slightly different for us had we had the two new tyres [in Q3]. Nevertheless, I think anything can happen tomorrow.

‘Our fight’s with McLaren and Alonso’ – Russell reckons Red Bull and Ferrari are too strong for Mercedes

“We got a good reading [on the car] in the Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint Race,” he added. “We wanted to make some changes. Time will tell tomorrow if it’s an improvement or not… I think the Ferraris are a little bit ahead of us. I think the fight is with McLaren and Fernando [Alonso].”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen will start the Chinese Grand Prix from pole position tomorrow, with team mate Sergio Perez alongside him.

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