Lewis Hamilton ‘not accepting reality’ as Mercedes warned of W15 set-up experiments

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton wipes his forehead with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is not “willing to accept the reality” of Mercedes’ situation in F1 2024, with his setup experiments likely to have “long-term” consequences for the team’s development of the W15 car.

That is the view of former F1 technical director Gary Anderson, who has urged Hamilton to “look and learn” from team-mate George Russell in the seven-time World Champion’s bid to kickstart his season.

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Mercedes entered the F1 2024 campaign aiming to return to regular victory contention, having been restricted to just a single race win since F1’s ground effect rules were introduced in 2022.

However, Hamilton has endured his worst-ever start to a season, scoring just 19 points across the first five rounds and finishing behind Russell in every race the Mercedes pair have finished to date.

Following the trend of the last couple of seasons, Hamilton has sought to unlock more performance from the W15 by trying a range of setups.

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This strategy backfired at the recent Chinese Grand Prix, where just hours after finishing second to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the sprint race Hamilton could only manage 18th in qualifying.

Hamilton later admitted that he had made “massive changes” to his car between the sessions and could only recover to ninth place the following day.

Anderson, the former Jordan technical boss who has been a vociferous critic of Mercedes over recent years, has accused Hamilton of being unwilling “to accept the reality” of the team’s situation.

And he has warned that the seven-time World Champion’s tinkering could have long-term consequences for the team’s development, limiting Mercedes’ understanding of the W15.

Writing in his column for the Telegraph, he said: “There might be something in Hamilton chasing the few times that Mercedes have found their sweet spot in the last few years.

“It has been there on occasion – two poles and one win since the end of 2021 – but has been fleeting.

“The Mercedes is generally inconsistent. This is all likely leading him astray and Hamilton does not seem willing to accept the reality.

“There is a knock-on effect that hampers the car’s development long-term, too. If you make odd choices on set-up then a team fails to find a baseline for performance and setup.

“It limits learning about the car. If that is absent then the development path, knowing what to work on in the wind tunnel and improving aerodynamic performance, will be confused too.

“It leaves a team with no positive direction.

“This continues to be a recurring headache for Hamilton but he has at least an end date as he departs for Ferrari.

“In the meantime if he does not want to end the year as the second-best Mercedes driver he should look and learn from Russell and simply take the best out of what he has to work with.”

Anderson’s latest comments come after he warned Hamilton that “the excuses must stop at some point”, claiming his setup experiments are unlikely to be as dramatic as he says.

He said: “Hamilton still seems to be searching for that magic bullet that will suddenly see him leap to the front. Well, in all my years in motorsport I have never seen that happen.

“Mercedes have had a fundamental problem with their car since the start of 2022 and no amount of setup changes will fix it. It should always be about optimising what you have at your disposal, if you can do this it gives you a baseline to work from.

“The excuses must stop at some point. The decision-making process on Hamilton’s side of the garage has to be questioned.

“When Hamilton talks of these out-there setups, they are probably not as wild as he would have us believe.”

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