The F1 2023 summer shutdown is over, leading to a busy media day at Zandvoort ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff made the reveal that the old Lewis Hamilton is no longer there, while his team-mate Russell issued a stern response to those reflecting on Mercedes as a “failure” in F1 2023.
All that and much more, so let us dive into the action…
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
‘Lewis Hamilton 2.0’ drives for Mercedes these days
The union of Hamilton and Mercedes goes down in the Formula 1 history books as one of the most iconic, and the most successful team and driver pairing of all time, Hamilton having won six World titles in Mercedes colours.
These days though, Hamilton faces a very different challenge at Mercedes, as rather than hoovering up titles, now it is about the recovery effort to return to that conversation, Red Bull having established themselves as the dominant force of Formula 1.
But, since joining the team in 2013, Wolff sees the Brit having evolved into the ‘Hamilton 2.0’ as he dubs him of today.
“People who take it for a fact that ‘This is who I am,’ that’s not his attitude, not his mindset,” Wolff told US publication Boardroom.
“It’s difficult to actually change your personality or your mindset, values, and learnings, but he does that. He embraces that.”
George Russell rallies against Mercedes “failure” talk
Mercedes came into F1 2023 with the goal of returning to the title picture, one which has not been realised with Red Bull having won all 12 grands prix so far.
Max Verstappen has claimed 10 of those victories as team and driver march towards consecutive title doubles.
Russell though had a clear message for anyone who looks at Mercedes in F1 2023 as “a failure”.
“There were a lot of expectations upon us going into the season, and perhaps [that’s] why people are calling our season a bit of a failure,” Russell told media including PlanetF1.com.
“Of course, it’s far from where we wanted to be because we want to be fighting for championships, but to call P2 in the championship, 50 points ahead of P3 at the moment, a failure is far from reality.”
Felipe Massa cannot reclaim 2008 World title from Lewis Hamilton
Back in 2008 Hamilton was a McLaren driver racing to his first World Championship, snatching the title from Massa at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, in front of Massa’s home crowd.
The fallout from that year’s Singapore ‘Crashgate’ scandal though has cast great controversy over that title result in present day, leading Massa to take legal action.
But, it appears compensation is the best that the Brazilian racer can hope for, as a route to overturn the World Championship result does not exist via governing body the FIA.
“According to the FIA Statutes, once the trophy had been handed over to Lewis Hamilton at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony, there was no course of appeal for Massa or his Ferrari team,” reporter Craig Slater told Sky Sports.
Lance Stroll falls ill ahead of Dutch Grand Prix
The Aston Martin driver was conspicuous by his absence on media Thursday at Zandvoort, ahead of the F1 2023 season-resuming Dutch Grand Prix.
His team would shed light on why Stroll was not in the paddock, an “infection” keeping Stroll from partaking in media activities.
But, if Aston Martin reserve Felipe Drugovich was getting his hopes up of a debut outing, they were swiftly shut down by his team.
“He [Stroll] is fit and well and will compete at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix,” Aston Martin confirmed.
Haas confirms 2024 driver line-up
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it is very much the message from Haas as they confirmed an unchanged driver line-up of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen for F1 2024.
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had an extremely solid driver pairing this season in Formula 1 and ultimately there was no reason to look to change that moving forward,” said team principal Guenther Steiner.