Lewis Hamilton relishes brief lead at Chinese Grand Prix amid Mercedes struggles

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20th April 2024 – (Shanghai) Lewis Hamilton experienced the lead during the initial nine laps of the sprint at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday. The seven-time world champion, who has not been at the helm of a race in recent times, seized an early advantage over McLaren’s Lando Norris at the start. However, his lead was short-lived as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen overtook him on the Shanghai International Circuit’s lengthy back straight.

Verstappen, a triple world champion, was clocked lapping a second faster than Hamilton before claiming victory. This performance underscores the continued dominance of Red Bull, who secured 21 wins out of 22 races last season and have triumphed in three of the first four races of the current season.

Hamilton, whose last victory was in Saudi Arabia in 2021, shared his momentary joy during a press conference. “I forgot what it felt like to be up ahead, and it felt good for the short while that I had it, so I was grateful for the moment,” said Hamilton. He added that being on the front row was a rare view for him in recent times.

Despite the initial success, Hamilton acknowledged the performance gap between his Mercedes and Verstappen’s Red Bull. “Max, I didn’t even put up a fight against because he was coming at a serious, serious pace advantage,” he remarked. He also noted that the sprint had provided valuable insights into his car’s performance, which would inform adjustments before the qualifying rounds later that day.

Hamilton, set to join Ferrari next season, reflected on his brief stint at the front. “To be able to fight into turn one for the lead reminded me why I love what I do… and I know we’ve got to work fairly hard to get back to more consistent racing like this,” he concluded.