Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has said the W13 has become a “normal racing car” and believes a first win of the season could be close.
With just nine races remaining in the 2022 season, Mercedes are yet to climb onto the top step of the podium – an unusual situation for the team who have won the last eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships.
After starting the year with a troublesome car as they introduced a radical ‘zero-sidepod’ concept for the new regulations, Mercedes have slowly and methodically unlocked more performance from the machine.
Heading into the summer break, Mercedes wrapped up a convincing second and third place with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell respectively in Hungary, following on from Russell taking pole position on Saturday.
Mercedes are rumoured to have brought a significant update to this weekend’s action at Spa-Francorchamps and, together with the introduction of the new Technical Directive 039, the Brackley-based team could become a potent threat for victories in the remaining races of the year.
Certainly, Hamilton believes wins are back on the cards as he spoke to media on Thursday in Belgium, as he was asked about whether the W13 is now capable of victories.
“I do. Definitely [believe that],” he said.
Hamilton has won a race in every single year he’s raced in F1, but time is ticking on whether he can keep that enviable record up with just nine opportunities remaining.
“We’ve been improving. We’ve had this consistency that’s come up over the recent races and [it’s been] great progress that the team is making.
“Everyone [is] pulling together, continuing to push. The car is becoming more of a racing car, which is not particularly what it was at the beginning of the year. It’s more like a normal racing car in the sense of its characteristics, so that’s positive.”
Having clinched second place on merit in Budapest, a circuit with high downforce demands, Hamilton said it bodes well for the rest of the season.
“The last race was obviously the best showing that we’ve had so far,” he said.
“That, for us, was a huge boost that we can close that gap.
“It’s naturally going to continue to be tough. We will keep our heads down, the other guys are doing an amazing job. But I do believe that we can close the gap.”
Mercedes “having fun” with their racing again
Mercedes, who will race with a tweaked livery this weekend as they celebrate the 55th anniversary of AMG, are “having fun” in F1 again, according to Andrew Shovlin.
Speaking over the summer break, Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering said the team are hopeful of making the “extra step” that will put them on par with the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.
“We’ve got more coming,” he said.
“We’re trying to bring some performance to Spa that will hopefully close that gap. We haven’t got far to go now, but we’ll keep developing the car for a little while now.
“We’re quite excited though. The last few races have been the most fun we’ve had all year, and we’re just hoping that we can take that extra step, because we definitely want to be winning races in the near future so we’re working hard to try and achieve that.”