Lewis Hamilton reveals current W15 pace gap with update on Mercedes wind tunnel

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

With Mercedes lacking at least two-tenths a lap against their excelling rivals according to Lewis Hamilton, he concerningly does not see anything in the works that will allow the team to bridge that gap.

After McLaren used their upgraded MCL38 to devastating effect in Miami as Lando Norris took the win, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all looked to respond with upgrade packages of their own for Imola.

Lewis Hamilton claims required Mercedes gains ‘not in the wind tunnel’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

But, while Norris and McLaren mounted a fresh victory challenge to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at Imola, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc believes they are on the cusp of joining that fight, Mercedes found themselves somewhat in no man’s land, Hamilton finishing P6 and 35 seconds behind race winner Verstappen, with Russell another 12 seconds further back.

And while Hamilton was more satisfied with his pace in his second stint, he still felt “two to three tenths” was lacking versus the Ferraris, McLarens and Verstappen’s Red Bull ahead.

“I think my pace in the second stint was comparable to the guys that are out towards the front,” he told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher.

“But I think we’re still lacking two or three tenths.”

On that note, Hamilton was asked when be believes Mercedes can overcome that deficit and return to challenging at the front? This of course is a position which he and the team were very accustomed to, though Hamilton is now on a baron spell without a win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

And Hamilton could not give an answer, though alarmingly, said such a performance gain is not presenting itself in the Mercedes wind tunnel at this stage.

“That I cannot tell you,” said Hamilton to the question of when Mercedes can catch Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari? “I don’t have… that deficit, like I said George [was] five-tenths off yesterday and in the race probably three or four tenths.

“That’s not in the wind tunnel at the moment development wise.”

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And asked whether Mercedes have made strides in understanding these upgrades for Imola, Hamilton replied: “Not a big difference. Small steps, but very very small.”

Hamilton’s race time was not helped by a trip through the gravel at Acque Minerali on the 28th lap, the seven-time World Champion believing that cost him five seconds, with three more to add for the fact that he pitted and came out behind Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso as a result.

“I think probably about five seconds with that off,” he confirmed.

“Then that meant that I came out behind Fernando and I lost another bunch of seconds there, so I think probably all in all, probably eight seconds maybe, not ideal. At least we didn’t lose any positions.”

Mercedes, sitting P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, already find themselves 189 points behind leaders Red Bull.

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