Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Hamilton ‘redeemed’ by ending run of poor starts in China

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton feels he redeemed himself by passing his team mate at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix following poor starts in both of the races so far this year.

Hamilton lost out to Valtteri Bottas in Australia and Bahrain but got ahead of his pole-sitting team mate at the start of today’s race which put him on course for victory.

“Clearly [it’s] an area that I’ve struggled with and it’s not like it’s only this year,” said Hamilton. “It’s been something I’ve struggled with over the years: 2016, you could say, was one of the worst. Probably back in 2007, 2008 was also really poor period of time for starts, particularly against the Ferraris who were very, very strong with it.

“Last year was actually a really strong year for me. I think I just finished second overall of quickest starts throughout the year to, I think it was Carlos Sainz or something like that. Arguably it was first – but it’s dependent on the GPS.

“The first few races have been difficult for me off the line, so it’s nice to finally kind of redeem myself and rectify that. Naturally the next 18 races can still be up and down. Just have to keep working at it.”

The world champion was unhappy with the balance of his Mercedes during practice but said the changes he made to his car and driving style during qualifying paid off in the race,

“The changes that I made in qualifying, driving style-wise, enabled me to be able to deliver fairly decent performance to at least match Valtteri,” he said.

“Once you’re in the lead, you gauge it a little bit more, you can utilise your pace, you can see where your weaknesses are and you can build and work on them lap after lap. But after I got probably the first couple of laps, then all of a sudden I started to get in the groove and I was like OK, I’ve got the pace today, let’s see how I can keep these tyres alive and deliver to the strategy that we were supposed to.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Hamilton ‘redeemed’ by ending run of poor starts in China”

  1. Amid the cloud of comments about Mercedes-era dominance, we-know-Hamilton-is-good-but, or simply taking anything he says to be hype, it seems to escape a lot of people’s attention that Hamilton – since being beaten by Rosberg, I think – has become a much more concentrated driver, focusing on every aspect of his racing to extract performance. And he tells those who ask (journalists) precisely what he’s doing. There’s no need for subterfuge. He defines his own weak areas and works on them. Presumably the same for the team. I say this as he was always depicted as a ‘natural’ driver but not much else, and is still seldom given credit for patient and intelligent team building, but that’s precisely what he has been doing with Mercedes over recent years. It’s where Ferrari should have been with Alonso. Or Vettel. But neither of those delivered.

    1. Very well said. Hamilton is a true team leader

    2. Ferrari and RedBull among some other teams/brands are too consumed with themselves. They pride themselves on past laurels and this undeserved marvellous perception many hold, or are paid to hold, of their brand.

      Mercedes, whether genuine or not, always have shown humility, imo, they don’t rest on past achievements and most importantly value their team players. This to me, has allowed them to perform at their best, while others, in other teams, are tripping over themselves trying not to be the next scapegoat.

      Ferrari can do no wrong, it must be the people. Replace them as necessary to maintain the brand image.

    3. As far as i can see, Hamilton had a perfect weekend. The only think which could have spoilt his weekend was to get Pole.

      It seems to me for the few metres you gain at the start, that inside right winding start more than makes up the advantage. I think Hamilton’s weekend started by ‘bagging second’ place ;)

      Sure Hamilton’s start was blistering, but even if Bottas has got a better start, there is no one he could have shut the door on this team mate, that would have spelled collision. No, that inside position was perfect for Hamilton, absolutely perfect.

      This historic 1000 race, could not have gone to a more worthy Champion.
      Well done Mercedes!

    4. 2016 is a pivotal season in Hamilton’s career. He lost the title to Rosberg after making some of his best races and runs of form, mixing with some crucial mistakes which cost him the title. He sincerely felt ashamed to lose the title to Rosberg (he presented possible to lose the title to Vettel never Rosberg) and he took the remains of the season to move up the final gear in his racing. Abu Dhabi 2016 where he toyed with the field from the lead, was a funny example of his unachieved potential until that moment, about cerebral racing controlling all the elements.
      I sensed after the defeat in 2016, he made up his mind to recover the title and try beating many of the records in F1 and in that process Vettel was the victim after the surprise retirement of Rosberg.

      1. Poor mechanical reliability largely cost Hamilton the title in 2016. Apart from a few poor starts & Baku, Hamilton actually drove very well. Rosberg messed up as many starts but had largely bullet proof reliability.

        1. Rosberg was actually significantly the worse driver of the 2 in 2016. He was saved (just) by Hamilton’s repeated mechanical issues otherwise he would have finished the season roughly 2 race wins behind in points.

  2. What is it with the supposed dirty/clean side of the grid so far this year? In all 3 races so far the driver starting 2nd is the first out of turn one. Seems to be a pattern that is repeated on the 2nd row too (partly a knock-on effect of the respective getaways on the front row I guess).

    1. @ninjenius I’ve been wondering the same thing.

      1. Just thinking, on this track it would have made more sense to have that inside right positon given to the Pole. That advantage would have really made qualifying special.

        But then this so succinctly sums up China and their philosphy, its not about he who starts first, but he who lasts. ;) I believe the shape of the track is suppose to signify something but i’ve not explored that yet.

    2. Bottas mentioned in the post-race interview that he had extra wheel slip off the start because of the start/finish line paint. I wonder if that’s something specific to Shanghai.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        15th April 2019, 20:53

        @knewman Rosberg made the same claim after losing the start in Hockenheim 2016

  3. “Last year was actually a really strong year for me. I think I just finished second overall of quickest starts throughout the year to, I think it was Carlos Sainz or something like that.”

    So that must be something Mercedes measure themselves… be nice if they could release the information to us lot, never seen data on overall start speeds before (only positions gained, etc).

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      15th April 2019, 20:54

      @neilosjames True. At some point they remarked that Hamilton had the best start of the season (forgot which year), but he started somewhere in the midfield so no one saw and no one cared :)

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