Z for two days Lewis Hamilton covered his frustration pretty well. After the race, the world champion clearly struggled to cope with all the disappointments that pushed him to seventh place at the Chinese GP. What was left to him was gallows humor. 'Finally I had a great start. And that's where I'm at the bottom.'
The only bright spot was a calculation error. When Hamilton said that he was slowly running out of trump cards at what felt like 50 points behind Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes press spokesman reminded him that there were only 36 points. Then Hamilton's face suddenly brightened: 'Really? Only 36 points? Then it's not as bad as I thought.'
Engine problem relegated Hamilton to last place
Otherwise he had Hamilton didn't laugh too much on the Shanghai weekend. It started with a gear change that would have thrown him 5 places back. In the first few minutes of qualification, it continued with an engine problem. Probably a short circuit had paralyzed the MGU-H. This meant that the MGU-K no longer supplied any power. 'A bit like our Montreal problem from 2014, but with different effects. This time we couldn't risk Lewis trying it without electric power,' explained engine boss Andy Cowell.
This meant that Hamilton was in last place on the grid . Mercedes planned with the tactic: soft-supersoft-soft-soft. As the only driver besides the Manor pilots, Hamilton had 3 fresh soft sets on offer for the race. In addition, two sets of new Supersofts, one used and one set of Medium.
The accident in the first corner mixed up all planning. When Felipe Nasr hit the number 44 Mercedes during an evasive maneuver, it was seriously damaged. The front runner of the underbody (T-tray) was broken. At high speeds, she sucked herself up. There was also damage to the base plate under the cooling inlets. And the steering was crooked.
Broken tires prevent soft-soft-soft
The car lost massive downforce . Team boss Toto Wolff revealed that the losses were comparable to those of Bahrain. But the effects were worse, as one engineer reported: 'Lewis lost most of the downforce at the front. On a course that strained the front tires. She did that incredibly quicklylet it break down. Lewis was quick at the start of his stints, but then the grip deteriorated rapidly. At the end of the stint, he was one second slower per lap than normal. '
It got worse. First, the safety car opened up a new option for the Mercedes strategists, which meant that Hamilton was within 'We wanted to get rid of the Supersoft as quickly as possible and then ride the Soft 3 times.' That would have been by far the fastest strategy from then on. Since we were in the back anyway, we could afford the additional stop. Lewis could easily close the gap again within one lap. '
For the soft-soft-soft tire sequence, the world champion would have had to use the first set of soft again. But then the engineers had a bad surprise. During the inspection we found that the right rear tire was cut down to the carcass. Possibly from one of the many front wing end plates that were lying around. So he was no longer an option. So Lewis had to drive a set of medium at the end. That wasn't ideal in his situation. 'At the end of the final 26-lap stint, he could neither defend himself against Kimi Raikkonen nor attack Felipe Massa.