Lewis Hamilton reveals moment he realised Mercedes W14 not ‘title-winning’ level

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton prepares for the start of the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix.

With only one race remaining to break his winless streak, Lewis Hamilton admits he knew back in pre-season testing already that his W14 “wasn’t a championship-winning car”.

43 races into Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era and Mercedes have a single Grand Prix victory on the board, George Russell’s P1 at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

While Hamilton has come close a few times, it has only been a few with the Briton unable to complete the task, which has extended his winless streak to 44 races.

Lewis Hamilton knew in pre-season testing the W14 was a ‘concern’

It seemed inconceivable when he lost the World title to Max Verstappen in 2021 that it would mark the end of Hamilton’s record-breaking success.

But to date, he has stalled on 103 Grand Prix wins and seven Drivers’ Championship titles.

The blame for that, though, lies with Mercedes ground-effect aerodynamic cars with the Brackley squad struggling to understand the concept.

While that resulted in the decision to drop the zero-pod design early on this season, Mercedes also having made other massive changes to the car including the front suspension, even that didn’t yield the sustained step forward they’d hoped for.

Hamilton says he knew the W14 was going to be a “concern” as early as pre-season testing.

“When I first drove the car in February I knew immediately that it wasn’t a championship-winning car,” he said. “It felt identical to the previous year’s car so that was definitely a concern.”

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‘We know where we’re going and know where we need to get to’

That’s not to say it’s been all doom and gloom for the Brackley squad.

Heading into the season finale they are sitting second in the Constructors’ Championship where they are four points ahead of Ferrari while Hamilton is adamant they have made progress this season.

From introducing bulkier sidepods to a modified floor in Austin that James Allison called a “bellwether for whether we’re on the right track”, there have been signs of encouragement for Mercedes.

“The credit I give to just us as a team coming together, the focus on just maximising with what we have,” Hamilton added. “And a huge amount of work that we’ve done in the background to just try to maximise each weekend.

“I think on my side, I think I’ve been very, very consistent generally, apart from one race probably this year; generally been another good, consistent year for me. But there’s also lots of areas that I can continue to improve.

“But when we’re on the podium in Austin and in Mexico, that’s down to the amazing people that I get to work with who have just not given up in the year and continue to push. And we have improved the car, ultimately not as much as we want but I think we really have.

“I feel like more than ever we have a North star, we know where we’re going and know where we need to get to. And so now it’s just all hands on deck we just all need to be rowing at the same pace.”

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