Rivals beware! Lewis Hamilton closing in on ‘full potential’ with Mercedes W14

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton is heavily reported to be on the verge of a move to Ferrari.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is far happier with the handling of the W14 following the raft of upgrades his team have introduced recently.

After being very public about his dislike of the handling of last year’s Mercedes W13 and this year’s W14, Lewis Hamilton says the team’s recent philosophy change is increasing his confidence in the car’s handling.

At last months’ Monaco Grand Prix, the team rolled out extensive upgrades to the W14 in what was a fundamental change akin to a ‘B-Spec’ version of the car, having abandoned their original design path.

Lewis Hamilton ‘getting there’ in extracting full potential

Hamilton has been open about his dislike of the car’s handling but, following the upgrades introduction and the team’s apparent step forward in performance, the seven-time World Champion has also revealed that he’s been able to get much closer to the full potential of his talent than he has in recent months.

“Well, you know I’ve not been happy in the car for the past year and a bit,” Hamilton told media ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“The step we took with the car has moved it more in the direction that I’ve been asking for, and so I’m slowly rebuilding confidence in the platform that I have.

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“It’s still not 100%, and I’m still not able to extract the full potential for myself, but we’re getting there.

“It’s not physically more demanding, it’s just you’re limited. The stability and the car, confidence of where you can put the car…. last year both me and George crashed here, the car has been very unpredictable for a long, long time.

“But it’s becoming more predictable, which is a positive.”

James Allison: It’s Mercedes’ job to get rid of car weaknesses

Returning technical director James Allison, who has resumed his role after two years as Mercedes’ chief technical officer, has overseen the introduction of the upgrade package, and opened up on the handling issues Hamilton has complained about.

Aside from the seating position, which Hamilton asserts is too forward and makes the car feel ‘on the nose’, Allison believes this isn’t the biggest worry the team have to worry about when it comes to this, and next year’s design.

“Lewis doesn’t like the handling of the car,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“And he sits in a different position compared to before. Whether one is related to the other, I don’t like to judge.

“I’ve had a few conversations with Lewis about it. I don’t think the seating position is a big factor in the problems he feels with the car. After all, we’re not talking about 20 centimetres here.

“Lewis has driven cars where he’s sat even further forward. What he’s right about is the criticism of the car’s roadholding. It’s our job to eliminate this weakness.

“Because that’s lap time. If we change the seating position, it’s for many other reasons and not because we think that alone will solve all the problems for Lewis.”

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