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Lewis Hamilton bemoans Mercedes performance after surprise early exit from Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix from 18th on the grid after being knocked out in the first part of qualifying; George Russell qualified eighth in the other Mercedes; watch the Chinese GP live on Sky Sports F1 at 8am on Sunday

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Lewis Hamilton is out in Q1 at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton said he was surprised the performance of his Mercedes deteriorated in Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, having thought it couldn't "get any worse" before making a shock early exit.

The seven-time world champion had enjoyed an encouraging start to Saturday as he finished second to Max Verstappen in the Sprint, but then only managed to qualify 18th for Sunday's race as team-mate George Russell took eighth.

Hamilton was on course to comfortably advance to Q2 before he ran wide at Turn 14 hairpin, losing a significant chunk of time.

Mercedes have endured their worst ever start to a Formula 1 season, taking just 34 points from the opening four rounds to trail leaders Red Bull by 107 points.

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Check out the best of the action from a thrilling Qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix.

"I just struggled," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

"I made massive changes into qualifying. It wasn't too bad in some places but I couldn't get it really to stop in Turn 14. It is what it is. I'll have fun from back there.

"This morning George and I had very similar cars but this afternoon we're trying to experiment still with the car so I went one way, a long way and he went the other way just to see if we could find anything, and that's what we need to do at the moment.

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"But it didn't work. I'll give it my best shot…18th is pretty bad.

"When I was making the set-up changes I was like, 'it can't get any worse, surely.' And it did."

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reflect on a difficult Mercedes qualifying session as they start the Chinese Grand Prix in P18 and P8 respectively.

Hamilton, who remained ninth in the drivers' standings despite claiming seven points in the Sprint, later took some personal responsibility for his qualifying exit.

"I don't blame anything on the team," he added. "It wasn't one of my best qualifying laps.

"I'm very strong mentally. It's not great.

"Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. This car is on a knife edge as you know so it can easily do what we had."

Russell: Set-ups weren't too dissimilar

Russell appeared to dispute Hamilton's account of the Mercedes set-ups, suggesting that there wasn't a significant difference between the cars.

"We weren't too dissimilar, to be honest," he told Sky Sports F1. "We both went in a similar direction. Obviously there are always small differences between the cars.

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Sky F1's Ted Kravitz reflects on all the big talking points from Sprint and Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix.

"We still need to learn as much as we can and when you arrive at a Sprint race you have no practice, no time to test. If we were to have maximised everything this weekend, maybe we would have been P3 or 4 on the grid, but we're not here to fight for P3 or 4 or 5.

"We want to fight for victories and we want to fight for championships, and we have a lot to do before we find ourselves in that position. Sometimes we may need to sacrifice a race or two and try some bolder things to get a better and greater understanding. As difficult as it is in the moment, it's what's necessary for the long run."

Sky Sports F1 pundit Nico Rosberg, who drove alongside Hamilton at Mercedes from 2013 to 2016, says the different perspectives coming from the Silver Arrows are "interesting".

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The best of the action from a dramatic Sprint at the Chinese Grand Prix.

While Hamilton got the better of Russell in Friday's wet Sprint Qualifying session, the younger Brit now holds a 4-1 head-to-head advantage in this full qualifying this season.

Rosberg said: "It's interesting how this year, because George has most of the time been in front of Lewis - 4-1 now in qualifying - and Lewis always tends to say, 'yeah, but we have such different set-ups and such a big car difference,' and that's kind of his excuse so far this year so.

"Each time he says that, George is like, 'last time I checked, the cars were pretty similar.' And he's gone again for that, so it's quite interesting."

Sky Sports F1's live Chinese GP schedule

China schedule

Sunday April 21
7am: Grand Prix Sunday: Chinese GP build-up*
10am: Chequered Flag: Chinese GP reaction*
11am: Ted's Notebook*

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

You can watch every session of the Chinese Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 and steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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