Lewis Hamilton has told Mercedes they need to put in the “greatest six months of development we’ve ever had” if they want to challenge Red Bull for top honours next season.
This year’s championships belong to Red Bull, the Milton Keynes squad having already wrapped the Constructors’ title with the Drivers’ to follow.
Behind them, it’s been a mixed bag for their rivals with momentum swinging between Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton: This period of time is critical for our trajectory
Although the latter is holding down second place in the standings, of late they’ve fallen to third, perhaps even fourth, on the track with McLaren emerging as Red Bull’s closest rival.
The Woking team’s in-season upgrades have shaved roughly a second off their lap time from Bahrain to Japan with McLaren having gone down a more Red Bull-esque design philosophy with their big Austrian Grand Prix update.
Hamilton believes it’s time for Mercedes, who earlier this year dropped their zero-pods, to do the same.
“The evidence is there at the McLarens and we can’t turn a blind eye to that,” he told Sky F1.
“We’ve got to look at what they’ve done and go in that direction. That is the direction but I truly believe my team can do it.
“We’ve always been great at putting downforce on the car, it’s just that the way our car currently works, adding downforce just isn’t working – it’s just bouncing more. Hopefully, with the change in philosophy, we will be back to where this team deserves because this is a World Championship team.
“We still are an amazing team and I have absolute faith in everyone. But decisions that are made at this period of time are critical for our trajectory.”
‘George and I give have been fully listened to’
The Briton says Mercedes are facing their “greatest six months of development” but he’s happy to say the designs and engineers are now listening to the drivers.
“There are things that I’ve asked for that we’ve gone in part of the direction for next year,” he explained.
“I think all the points that George and I give have been fully listened to. I have no idea where the car is going to be next year but we are a long, long way away.
“The next six months have got to be the greatest six months of development we’ve ever had to close that gap. To be really banging on the door.”
Earlier this year Hamilton lambasted Mercedes for not listening to him.
50s down on Max Verstappen at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, he told the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast: “Last year, I told them the issues that are with the car. Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn’t need.
“And I think it’s really about accountability, it’s about owning up and saying ‘yeah, you know what, we didn’t listen to you, it’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”
Mercedes have yet to win a grand prix this season with Ferrari the only team to have had a look-in on what has been a season dominated by Red Bull with Carlos Sainz winning in Singapore.