Lewis Hamilton ‘has made himself a victim’ with Mercedes W15 set-up experiments

Sam Cooper
2024 Saudi Grand Prix, Friday - Sam Bloxham

Lewis Hamilton has often vented his frustrations with the setup choices this season.

Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin has conceded Lewis Hamilton “has made himself a victim” this season by being the one to go with the more bold set-up experiments for the W15.

There has been a notable difference in performance between the two Silver Arrows drivers this year and trackside engineering director Shovlin has suggested the cause behind that is Hamilton’s willingness to go for “big set-up changes.”

Lewis Hamilton set-up issues revealed by Mercedes chief

Ever since the 2022 season, Hamilton has cut a frustrated figure as he tries to get to grips with the Mercedes car and it is a problem that is still there three seasons later.

As to why Hamilton seems to struggle more than George Russell, Shovlin said that was due to the seven-time World Champion making “himself a victim a few times.”

“It’s mainly about learning more about the car,” Shovlin told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Lewis in particular is open to big set-up changes this year. He wants to learn more about where he can get the most out of the car. He made himself a victim a few times. But if you don’t change anything, you won’t learn anything. It would be wrong to say: That’s just the way things are, let’s make the best of it.

“The bottom line is that we have to manage to achieve a better vehicle balance so that we don’t have to live with so many compromises.

“It happens again and again that we solve one problem and get a new one in return. The aim must be to have a strong front axle without sacrificing stability at the rear and a car that steers well in slow corners without oversteering in fast corners.”

In Shanghai, Hamilton finished second in the sprint only to qualify 18th and Shovlin said the reason behind that was the team could not solve the issues in time.

More on Lewis Hamilton

👉 ‘Don’t sign your own death warrant’ – Charles Leclerc warned ahead of Lewis Hamilton link-up

👉 Mercedes contract warning to Lewis Hamilton as he heads for Ferrari homeland

“We were no longer able to validate the changes we made between sprint and qualification in the simulator,” the Mercedes chief explained.

“There wasn’t enough time for that. And what he had changed in the vehicle provoked too much understeer. He tried to solve one problem and created another.

“During the sprint, both drivers had the feeling that a lot of the cars could be improved, especially in the slow corners. Both thought big changes were needed. Both then took different paths to find out more about the set-up behaviour of this car. The problem you run into is that with such a set-up change the driver hardly has time to get used to the effects.

“There were practically only two laps in Q1. That’s why Lewis braked at the end of the straight. He expected different behaviour. It had less to do with the set-up and more to do with a different reaction due to this tuning change.

“What have we learned from this? On sprint weekends, where you’re going from sprint to qualifying, it’s not an idea to make too big changes, even if the driver feels like there’s still something that could be improved.

“It’s better to give him a car that he knows and understands.”

Read next: Mercedes play Max Verstappen waiting game as Helmut Marko clause detail emerges – report