Lewis Hamilton opens up about his challenging Formula 1 season, admitting that he foresaw the hurdles ahead as early as pre-season testing. The seven-time Drivers’ Championship titleholder expressed his reservations about the championship potential of his W14 from the outset.
“When I first drove the car in February, I knew immediately that it wasn’t a championship-winning car,” Hamilton stated. “It felt identical to the previous year’s car, so that was definitely a concern.”
The Mercedes team has faced a formidable winless streak, with only one Grand Prix victory in the current ground-effect aerodynamic era, courtesy of George Russell’s triumph at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix. Despite Hamilton coming close on several occasions, the elusive victory has extended his dry spell to 44 races.
The blame for this unexpected downturn, according to Hamilton, lies with the intricacies of Mercedes’ ground-effect aerodynamic cars. The team, based in Brackley, has grappled with understanding the concept, prompting them to make significant changes, including dropping the zero-pod design early in the season and modifying the front suspension. However, these alterations failed to deliver the sustained improvement they had hoped for.
Hamilton, who lost the World title to Max Verstappen in 2021, expressed his disappointment at stalling on 103 Grand Prix wins, highlighting the unexpected challenges posed by the W14. Despite this setback, the British driver remains resilient, emphasizing the progress made throughout the season.
“The credit I give to just us as a team coming together, the focus on just maximizing with what we have,” Hamilton said. “And a huge amount of work that we’ve done in the background to just try to maximize each weekend.”
Acknowledging positive signs, Hamilton pointed to modifications such as introducing bulkier sidepods and a revamped floor in Austin. James Allison, a key figure in the team, described the latter as a “bellwether for whether we’re on the right track.” These adjustments, while not fully achieving the desired results, have provided glimpses of encouragement for Mercedes.
“I feel like more than ever we have a North star, we know where we’re going and know where we need to get to. And so now it’s just all hands on deck; we just all need to be rowing at the same pace,” Hamilton concluded.