Lewis Hamilton made the best of a bad situation in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by fighting from the back of the grid to finish seventh for Mercedes.
Hamilton arrived in China set on ending teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg’s run of five straight race wins, only to be hit with a grid penalty for a gearbox change before the weekend had even started.
His problems grew worse on Saturday when his engine failed in qualifying, leaving him to start from 22nd in Shanghai.
Hamilton made a good start to pick up a few positions off the line, only to get tangled up in an incident with Felipe Nasr at Turn 2 (pictured) that forced him into pitting for repairs.
It would be the first of five pit stops for the Briton in China, with Mercedes changing strategy in reaction to the race that kept twisting in the early stages.
The decision to fit him with a set of medium tires and go long to the end of the race on lap 31 allowed Hamilton to rise up to fifth at one point, but he was unable to pass Williams’ Felipe Massa for position.
This gave Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen the chance to catch and pass Hamilton on fresher, quicker tires, leaving him to settle for seventh come the checkered flag.
Hamilton said he felt it was the most he could achieve given the circumstances, and is now focusing on cutting the 36 point gap to Rosberg in the coming races.
“I got a good start, but it’s always tricky being at the back and trying not to get caught up in the domino effect of any contact at the first corner,” Hamilton said.
“I tried to avoid whatever happened in front of me but I just got tangled up in it. It was just a bit unfortunate, really. From there it was always going to be a battle – but I had a lot of fun fighting back through! There were plenty of overtakes, from what I can remember!
“I gave it everything I had and P7 was about the limit. There was nothing left in the tires at the end and, although it’s pretty good for overtaking here, I had quite a lot of damage to the car which made it difficult to get close on the brakes. From what I could feel there was definitely some aero loss and possible suspension damage too, as the car seemed to be flexing all over the place.
“But that’s racing – it happens sometimes and at least I still managed to get a few points on the board. It’s a pretty big hit points-wise today – but I’ll just have to do what I can to make it up over the next few races.”