‘We’re In a Battle of Fine Margins’ – George and Lewis Preview China

With the first Chinese Grand Prix in five years set to take place in Shanghai this weekend, George and Lewis discuss the team’s fortunes after the first four rounds of 2024.

Despite a challenging start to the season, both drivers can see the progress being made with W15, and the difference that could make in a tightly packed F1 grid.

“We understand the car a little more after Suzuka. We definitely made improvements,” said Lewis.

George added: “Small things make a big difference to the overall. A tenth or two in Qualifying and we are four places higher up the grid.

“Formula One is extremely competitive. It has been a long time since we have had four teams fighting for that second position.

“We’re in a battle of fine margins right now.”

A close fight indeed, but one we have been on the wrong side of in the past few races.

The Shanghai International circuit will offer a different test to the high-speed layouts of Jeddah, Melbourne and Suzuka, something the drivers also hope can also lead to an upturn in fortunes.

“This weekend will be a good test of where we are,” said George.

“There is a lot more potential, and we have not optimised the car yet. We have things we need to improve, but it has only been four races.

“The previous few circuits have not suited the characteristics of our car. In Bahrain we qualified third and should have finished on the podium.

“If the season had started at three different tracks we would be in different position.”

For Lewis, the weekend is a welcome return to one of his most successful venues. No-one has won more around Shanghai (six) than the seven-time world champion.

“The track is amazing. They made a great circuit and nothing has changed since I first came here in 2007,” he said.

“We’ll try and bring what we learned from last time out and hopefully that finds us some performance.”

There are things we need to improve. But it’s only been four races.

Not only will this be the first visit to China since the new regulations at the start of 2022, it will also be the first Sprint weekend at the circuit, and the first of the season.

New rules for this year will see the addition of a second parc fermé period between the end of the Sprint race on Saturday morning and Grand Prix Qualifying in the afternoon, allowing teams to change their set-ups.

Some Sprint challenges remain though, notably the fact that teams will have just one hour of FP1 to get the set-up locked in for the two Sprint sessions to follow.

“With the nature of these tyres and how complex these cars are there may be some surprises but that is part of the sport now,” said George.

“It is the same for everybody and we will have to adapt. I trust the team will work their socks off to achieve that.

“I’m excited to see what that brings.”

Source and more info : Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team