Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff speaking to George Russell. Image credit: Getty Images

Mercedes arrived in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix with a small upgrade to the rear wing aimed to increase airflow down the body. However, with one practice session at their helm, the team were skeptical about the set up decisions. And China’s wet weather further added to the misery.

While Lewis Hamilton’s car was relatively quick on the inters, his teammate George Russell crashed out in SQ2 due to a small yet substantial misstep by Mercedes’ strategists. Calling out the same, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff agreed that he is angry for not getting the tyre preparations on a volatile track right.


Mercedes Strategists’ Haste On Shanghai’s Wet Track Cost George Russell SQ1 Spot!

George Russell, Mercedes
George Russell (Via IMAGO)

The Chinese Grand Prix marked a dramatic return to F1 after a five-year layoff. The sprint qualifying held on Friday produced unusual results due to a sudden change in weather in the second half. Midway through the SQ2 session, rain started to pour, leaving drivers in panic, thus resulting in chaos. Meanwhile, Mercedes got caught up in the chaos and badly messed up George Russell‘s strategy. Russell was in the drop zone, and instead of warming up his tyres in the garage, they sent him out in the queue lined up at the pit exit lane, which led to a heavy loss of time and stripped Russell of a chance to set his fastest time. He was eventually beaten by home hero Zhou Guanyu.

Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged the strategists’ miscue and expressed deep frustration and agony. He said that knowing how their car is so critical when it comes to tracking temperature issues, Mercedes should have done better. The drivers weren’t supposed to be out so early in SQ2, and after the arrival of rain, they had to pay the price. “We would have been better off waiting in the garage, even with the risk of rain coming earlier,” Wolff said post-spring qualifying session. On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton showcased his mastery of driving in wet conditions and attained a provisional pole before Lando Norris’ lap time reinstatement drama cut short his celebrations. Hamilton’s spectacular driver was combination of his driving skills and the right tyre preparation according to the weather.

Lewis Hamilton Denied Sprint Pole In FIA Created Confusion!

Mercedes W14 McLaren MCL60
Mercedes W14 McLaren MCL60 Source: PlanetF1

Lando Norris went off in his McLaren on second last qualifying lap at Shanghai which resulted into his following lap time being deleted on track limits infringement violations. That propelled Lewis Hamilton to pole position until FIA reversed their decision. Since Lando had not gained an advantage by slipping into the gravel, his deleted time was reinstated and subsequently, Norris was promoted to pole.

As per race directors’ pre-race notes, unlike the standard track limits regulation practice, rules were changed for Shanghai. Since it’s impossible for drivers to gain an advantage by going off the limits into the gravel in the final corner of the lap, only the lap time that Lando Norris went off was deleted and not the following lap, which actually helped him outqualify Lewis Hamilton.

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