Lewis Hamilton criticises new-era F1 cars for ‘not delivering everything they said’

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton leads the field on the way to the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads the field on the way to the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Lewis Hamilton has said the regulations introduced to Formula 1 last year have not produced the desired result overall.

Formula 1 introduced revolutionary new rules for the 2022 season, with a move away from a focus on over-body downforce generation to one of ground effect in a bid to reduce turbulent ‘dirty’ air.

The switch to ground effect meant the emergence of the phenomenon of ‘porpoising’, with the curious side-effect of the aerodynamic concept resulting in safety concerns due to the extent of G-force the drivers were having to put up with as their cars bounced down the straights.

In a bid to cure the porpoising effect, the FIA introduced mandatory floor changes for 2023. While porpoising has been largely eradicated, the ground effect has reduced somewhat as a result of the floor changes, meaning a swing back towards increased dependence on over-body downforce generation.

As a result, drivers are finding it more difficult to follow cars once again, with the amount of overtaking reduced in the first three Grands Prix compared to the same races last season.

An example of the difficulty in following was visible in Saudi Arabia, when Max Verstappen, in the dominant Red Bull RB19, found it difficult to make progress in the early stages of the race from P15 on the grid – this was due to the disturbed air being thrown off cars in front while blasting along the barrier-lined streets of Jeddah’s Corniche.

Lewis Hamilton: The regulations haven’t delivered everything promised

Lewis Hamilton says he believes the regulations, as they matured into their second season, have not produced the desired outcome of closer racing and reduced turbulence.

“I think, last year for us was pretty bad with the bouncing because you’ve got the turbulence and the bouncing,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

“Whereas this year, we don’t have the bouncing, so we have [fewer] issues following cars.

“I think it’s still a little bit better than the previous generation of cars, but it hasn’t delivered everything they said it would.”

With Mercedes initially struggling at the start of 2023 after sticking with their ’22 car concept for this season, Australia suggested the team had made a big step forward – Hamilton and George Russell were Red Bull’s closest rivals, with both getting the chance to lead the race early on as Max Verstappen started cautiously.

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Despite being the second-quickest team in Melbourne, Hamilton said he doesn’t expect it to change the overall picture for the season that Mercedes will be playing catch-up to Red Bull.

“I think this gives everyone in the team a boost and a glimpse of hope and this will spur everyone on and will inspire everyone to continue to push,” he said.

“We know that if we can just bring a little bit of performance we can close the gap to the front. Still, there are going to be places where the gap is a lot bigger, so today, whilst the gap looks small, in other places, as I said, you look at the last race, it was a bit of a bigger gap.

“So yeah, I think if we just try to stay consistent, we’ve got great reliability then we can continue to apply the pressure, bag those points and then when the car is right, maybe we can start fighting for wins. That’d be incredible.”