The good news and bad news for Lewis Hamilton after seat position complaints

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton aerial 44 Mercedes W14 sidepods. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Lewis Hamilton aerial 44 Mercedes W14 sidepods. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Toto Wolff says Mercedes have listened to Lewis Hamilton’s complaints about his seat position, and that it’s on the list of things the team is looking to change.

It, however, won’t be a short-term fix.

At the start of a season in which Hamilton has complained about a “disconnect” with his car, the seven-time World Champion said after a tricky qualifying outing in Saudi Arabia that he felt “miserable” driving it.

He added: “I’m here as late as I can be every day, I’m preparing the best we can, and I get in the car and I just can’t connect with it. I don’t really know what to say about it.”

He has since explained that it’s his position of his seat in the car that’s a big part of the problem as it doesn’t give him the feeling he wants.

“I don’t know if people know,” he told media in Australia, including “We sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.

“When you’re driving, 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.

“If you were driving your car at home, and you put the wheels right underneath your legs, you would not be happy when you’re approaching the roundabout!

“So, what that does is it just really changes the attitude of the car and how you perceive its movement. And it makes it harder to predict, compared to when you’re further back and you’re sitting closer, more centre.

“It’s just something I’ve really struggled with.”

The good news for Hamilton is that, unlike when designing the W14, this time Mercedes are listening. recommends

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“We’re dealing with the big concept of driver position,” Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff said as per “Obviously that’s one of the most important things.”

Explaining that it’s about “where the driver has the best feeling in the car”, Wolff added: “That’s something that Lewis expresses very clearly.

“And when a seven-time World Champion has an opinion, it’s important to listen to it.”

The problem, though, is not a short-term fix as the seat positioning is part of the fundamental design of the car.

Wolff’s comments about it being “important to listen” come after Hamilton complained that the team did the exact opposite when they designed this year’s car.

Speaking to the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the driver criticised the team saying he “told them the issues that are with the car.

“Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn’t need.

“And I think it’s really about accountability, it’s about owning up and saying ‘yeah, you know what, we didn’t listen to you, it’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”

On the podium at the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton is up to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship with 38 points, 31 behind championship leader Max Verstappen.