Former Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe is bemused by the team’s attempts to downplay the extent of their Formula 1 dominance in 2014, insisting it is “nothing to be ashamed of”.
With Red Bull claiming their second consecutive one-two finish of 2023 at the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton implied the RB19 had a bigger advantage over the opposition than even Mercedes enjoyed during their period of dominance from the beginning of the V6 hybrid rules in 2014.
“I’ve never seen a car so fast,” Hamilton claimed in Jeddah, adding: “When we were fast, we weren’t that fast. That’s the fastest car I’ve seen compared to the rest.”
However, Lowe, who left Mercedes at the end of the 2016 season before an unhappy spell as Williams’ technical chief, has begged to differ, citing the W05 of 2014 – winner of all but three races that season – as the car with the biggest gap over its rivals.
And having previously admitted that Mercedes made attempts to disguise the true superiority of the W05 – its key attribute a standard-setting engine built by Mercedes’ Brixworth-based High Performance Powertrains division – to avoid its advantage being curbed by rule changes, he has been left disappointed by Mercedes’ attempts to suggest the 2014 was not as dominant as it seemed.
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According to German publication Motorsport-Total, he told the Formula1.co.uk YouTube channel: “I don’t think any other team has ever had that much of a lead [as Mercedes].
“In 2014, the situation was that we could adjust how much of a lead we needed on any given day. And that went on for a couple of races during the season.
“I don’t know why people make such a secret of it. Everyone suspected it anyway. In 2014, our lead was so big that we didn’t have to call up the full engine power most of the time. To be honest, that was quite extraordinary in the history of Formula 1.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The staff at Brixworth have just done an outstanding job with this engine.
“I know how much strategic input had to be done by Mercedes to finally be able to build this engine in Brixworth in 2014.
“That is one of Mercedes’ most outstanding achievements in the history of motorsport. And that has led to this immense lead, which has been quite embarrassing for the other engine manufacturers.”
The W05 proved a fine foundation for its immediate successors, with Mercedes again winning all but three races in 2015 before taking victory at 19 of the 21 races in 2016.
The team faced a stiffer challenge from the likes of Ferrari following the introduction of the extreme-downforce, wide-body rules in 2017 but continued to dominate, Mercedes claiming eight consecutive Constructors’ titles until 2021 as Hamilton joined Michael Schumacher on seven Drivers’ Championships, becoming the first driver in history to win more than a century of races.