Confusion reigns over Lewis Hamilton’s W14 seat position complaint

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton on the grid in the Mercedes W14. Australia April 2023

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton on the grid in the Mercedes W14. Australia April 2023

Although Lewis Hamilton’s seating complaints are new, at least outside of Mercedes, Ted Kravitz says the team didn’t move the cockpit forward with this year’s W14.

Despite pre-season predictions Mercedes had eradicated last year’s weaknesses with this year’s W14, the team has once again found themselves unable to challenge Red Bull for race wins while Aston Martin have nipped ahead as the second fastest car on the grid.

It has Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff acknowledging that the team “got it wrong” with their current car concept, the Austrian promising big changes to come.

Hamilton would like one of those changes to be his seating position.

Speaking to the media in Australia, the Briton revealed Mercedes sit “closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.

“When you’re driving, you feel like you’re sitting on the front wheels which is one of the worst feelings to feel when you’re driving a car.”

What the Briton didn’t reveal, though, was whether this was a new problem with his W14 or one that was already around last season.

Sky Sports F1 podcast host Matt Baker questioned whether this was one of the issues Hamilton raised with Mercedes when he complained earlier this year to the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast that he hadn’t been listened to.

Baker said: “Do you think this seating position thing is an example of when Lewis said he didn’t necessarily feel like the team listened to as much of his input as he’d have liked?

“A driver is not an aerodynamicist, there’s going to be limits to the input a driver can meaningfully have, but they are the ones driving the car and it feels like the seating position relative to the front axle is something that a driver feels.

“Because Lewis’s complaint, particularly about how he feels like it’s too far forward, do you think that’s one of those metrics where drivers input needs to be considered more? Because if Lewis is talking about the under-floor I’d doubt his input.” recommends

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Kravitz replied: “I’m not sure because at the beginning of testing we had a special guest, Mike Elliott. I had all these ideas about the Mercedes and I put them to Mike, and he said ‘no’.

“One of them was, I said have you moved the cockpit forward because there’s something online, I can’t remember what it was, so I said have you moved the cockpit forward. He said, ‘no’.

“So I’m all a bit confused.

“I don’t know whether that’s something Lewis can go and say ‘see, I told you we were too forward’ and they said ‘well, you’re no more forward than you were before’.

“So that will come out in the fullness of time I’m sure.”

Hamilton’s seating position hasn’t been helped by his W14’s lack of rear end grip with Kravitz explaining how the Mercedes is lacking compared to Max Verstappen’s RB19.

“They have this problem with the rear of the car, with rear grip, and Hamilton says he’s not happy with the rear of the car,” he said.

“Lewis isn’t like Max where, well he’s similar, but Max can turn in and then can judge it so perfectly on the throttle and on the steering wheel and everything else. Even if the back does step out a little bit, he can go power through and it’s very quick.

“Lewis is a bit more precise and George as well with that car, and that Mercedes has worse rear grip than the Red Bull.”

All in all it has Hamilton declaring a “disconnect” with his car that has left him feeling “uncomfortable in the car. I don’t feel connected to it.”

Hamilton has scored 38 points in the first three races of this season, the Briton P2 at the Australian Grand Prix.