Toto Wolff admits Lewis Hamilton ‘experiments’ with W15 “wasn’t the right thing to do”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded the set-up experiments conducted by Lewis Hamilton in China backfired.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 makes a pit stop. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand Prix,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 makes a pit stop. Formula 1 World…

Mercedes have admitted that set-up experiments on Lewis Hamilton’s car at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix “wasn’t the right thing to do”.

The seven-time world champion recovered to ninth in Shanghai after starting from a lowly 18th following a disastrous qualifying performance which he blamed on an aggressive set-up experiment.

Mercedes have been trialing different set-ups at the start of the 2024 season as they look to better understand the W15 and unlock more performance from it.

Hamilton finished second in the sprint race but his fortunes drastically changed in qualifying after revealing he had made “massive changes” to his car.

“Going in this morning, George [Russell] and I had very similar cars but then this afternoon, we just switched, trying to experiment still with the car,” he said on Saturday.

“So I went one way, a long way, and he went the other way, just to see if we can find anything. That’s what we need to do at the moment. But yeah. Didn’t work.”

Hamilton struggled with rear tyre temperatures throughout Sunday’s grand prix which Mercedes suspects was a direct result of the balance of his W15.

After the race, Hamilton told his race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington: “I won’t make that set-up change again, Bono. That was my bad. Thank you guys, and good job on the pit stops.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1 that the changes backfired.

"It's not an OK car. We can see what the mistakes are on the car,” Wolff explained.

“We wanted to go a bit more aggressive to see if it was something so different we needed to do on that car and you can see Lewis today took it on him, that was maybe a step too far.”

Wolff added: "The race car was not fast. You hear him saying the car doesn't turn and this is what we can see in the data. It wasn't the right thing to do.”

George Russell outqualifed Hamilton for the fourth time in five races this season and finished sixth, three places ahead of his teammate. 

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