Lewis Hamilton adamant Mercedes won’t ‘copy’ rivals as more teams unveil Red Bull-inspired cars

Michelle Foster
George Russell, Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and Mick Schumacher launch the Mercedes W14. February 2023.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance Launch - Finn Pomeroy

Despite rival teams Aston Martin, Williams and even McLaren taking design cues from Red Bull, Mercedes have stuck with their zero-pod design with Lewis Hamilton saying they won’t “ever be a team that copies other people”.

With Red Bull cruising to the championship double last season, a few of this year’s cars have drawn inspiration from the record-breaking RB18.

While last year there were touches of it in Aston Martin’s B-spec car as well as Williams’, this year more teams have gone down the route of the Red Bull sidepods including McLaren.

The team unveiled the MCL60 earlier this week, the 2023 car featuring Red Bull-esque sidepods including the elongated undercut.

Hamilton says that’s to be expected.

“Of course you can see that some of the cars are approaching what a Red Bull might look like,” he told media including PlanetF1.com “Perhaps with the exception of Ferrari.”

Mercedes is also an exception, the Brackley squad staying true to its zero-pod concept.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been a team that copied other people,” he added.

“We’ve always had our own mind and have always been a team that’s incredibly creative and innovative and likes to do it our way. And I think that’s worked in the past.”

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Lewis Hamilton has ‘faith’ in Mercedes’ design team

Although this year’s W14 is more an evolution of last year’s car than a revolution, Hamilton is confident the Brackley squad has resolved last year’s issues.

Last season the W13 bounced from one track to other, costing Mercedes downforce and ultimately pace.

This year the team’s technical director Mike Elliott believes they’ve eradicated those issues, but concedes that while there have been a lot of changes with the car, “the core stayed the same”.

Hamilton has “faith” in his Mercedes team to get it right.

“Last year we arrived and thought ‘damn, that was fast’ but it wasn’t, not with all the problems we had,” he said.

“And then we come into a new season with a car that looks similar in many ways, because some elements are really difficult to change but you just have to have faith in it the engineers have, and I have.

“I hope that the car has the characteristics we require when we run it. But if not, then we will find a way.

“I think it’s the job of engineers and designers to find solutions. So we’re on ready for anything that could happen.”

No ‘crystal ball’ for Lewis Hamilton

Although Mercedes did conduct a shakedown of the car on Wednesday, the W14 out on track shortly after the official launch, the team won’t know until they get to Bahrain next week how it compares to its rivals.

Even then they’re unlikely to have a true picture until the season-opening grand prix a week later.

Hamilton is hoping this car will see him return to the top step of the podium, the seven-time World Champion having missed out on a win last season, his first win-less campaign since joining the grid in 2007.

But, he admits, “we don’t have a crystal ball so you never know what’s coming.

“But all you can do is prepare and be present and just work diligently to solve the problem at hand.”