Have Mercedes listened to Lewis Hamilton on the key cockpit question on W15?

Michelle Foster
Mercedes 2024 car launch.

Mercedes has launched its 2024 F1 car, the W15.

Mercedes put the new W15 on the track at Silverstone on Wednesday and while the drivers have yet to share their thoughts, it does appear as if the 2024 car has resolved one of Lewis Hamilton’s biggest gripes.

Early last season the seven-time World Champion called out Mercedes’ design team when it came to the positioning of his seat in the W14.

“I don’t know if people know,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, at the Australian GP. “We sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.”

Have Mercedes moved the cockpit back on the W15?

He continued: “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.”

But while team boss Toto Wolff acknowledged at the time that it was “one of the most important things” Mercedes needed to focus on, he admitted it was something that could only be resolved with the next edition of the car.

“You can vary the cockpit position between, say, five and 15 centimetres” during the year he stated, before going on to talk about “weight distribution, aerodynamics and so on”.

But now that next edition, the W15, has hit the track and the big question – along with a long list of other big questions – is has the new car resolved Hamilton’s issues.

Formula Data Analyst armed with a ruler say yes. But only by 10cm.

Mercedes have yet to weigh in on the drivers’ seating position but tech boss James Allison, the man in charge of the W15, has spoken about designing an all-new chassis for this season.

“When we talk about a layout change,” he said, “you’re generally talking about where the engine sits in the chassis, what geometry of rear suspension you’re going to have on the gearbox and what changes you are going to make to the part that contains the driver.

“Those are all three things that are hypothetically doable in the middle of a year but come at such huge opportunity cost that you would never contemplate it. But nevertheless, you need to commit to them in the preceding summer.

“The off-season is about proving to yourself on your internal rigs and simulators that those pieces are what you hope they might be; that it looks like it will deliver on your hopes.”

Hamilton, who drove the car at Silverstone on Wednesday, has yet to comment.

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