Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes seating position: Nothing I can do about it

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in FP1. Monaco May 2023.

Lewis Hamilton rounds Rascasse during FP1 in his updated Mercedes W14. Monaco May 2023.

Lewis Hamilton’s long-running complaints about the seating position in the W14 haven’t been rectified with recent updates.

The batch of upgrades for the W14 introduced over the past two races have addressed some of the aerodynamic weaknesses of the car, following the team’s admission that their previous concept was not working out for them.

The first batch of significant upgrades, including a new floor and the introduction of sidepods for the first time in the ground effect era, resulted in Mercedes getting to grips with the changes quickly – the team’s smaller upgrade package in Barcelona saw them reap the reward as their race pace elevated them to a double podium finish behind race winner Max Verstappen.

But, while the team’s performance has taken an apparent step forward, Lewis Hamilton’s comfort in the cockpit is still being compromised by being seated further forward in the chassis than he’d like.

Lewis Hamilton not a fan of sitting near Mercedes front wheels

Earlier in the year, Hamilton had made it clear he wasn’t a fan of the seating position, but admitted his complaints are without teeth as there’s nothing that can be done to rectify the situation.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, that’s just the way it is,” he said when asked for an update about the current situation with the cockpit positioning problems, as quoted by F1i.com.

“The only things you can do is ultimately try to slow the rate of rotation, stabilise the rear end.

“That’s something you try and do on mechanical balance, but you’re just limited with the tools you have.”

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Speaking earlier in 2023, Hamilton explained why he didn’t enjoy sitting so far forward in the monocoque.

“If you look at the past, I’ve always enjoyed an oversteering car,” he said.

“[But] we sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. You feel like you’re sitting on the front wheels which is one of the worst feelings to feel when you’re driving a car.

“It makes it harder to predict compared to when you’re further back and sitting more centred.”

Lewis Hamilton pleased with direction of Mercedes concept change

Despite his ongoing concerns about his seat ergonomics, Hamilton made it clear that he’s thrilled about the direction the new Mercedes upgrades have taken the car.

“The new suspension was a real positive for me,” he said. “It gave me a lot more confidence [in Monaco and Barcelona] so I’m hoping that translates to [future races].”

“I think we’ve taken note of where we are and where we’ve gone wrong, and now we’re slowly chipping away and trying to navigate our way back to the front. It’s just a long process, unfortunately.

“We now have the wider sidepods more in the direction of what the Red Bull is.

“I mean it’s not been my decision to go that way. It’s the input that we’ve been having as a team, both George and I, over the past year,” he explained. “It’s those constant conversations where we’re like, ‘Why does that look like that?’ and ‘Why does this look like this, have you tried that?’

“If you look at the Red Bulls, the places where they get on the power earlier and the speed they can take through the corners is just because they have a much stronger rear end.

“We still have generally a very strong front and not as good a rear as we would hope to have.”