‘Toto Wolff wouldn’t have appreciated Lewis Hamilton’s criticism of the W14’

Michelle Foster
Mercedes team principal Lewis Hamilton speaking to Toto Wolff in the garage, hand gesture. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaking to Toto Wolff in the garage at the 2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Having criticised Mercedes for not listening to him, Eddie Jordan says Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t have made that public if wasn’t something he’d already said to the team.

Woefully off the pace at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, a race where Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell trailed the winning RB19 by more than 50 seconds, Hamilton hit out at Mercedes for not listening to him when it came to the new car.

Speaking to the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, he said: “Last year, I 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’.”

His team boss Toto Wolff downplayed Hamilton’s public criticism of the team, saying he’d “also like to say that I’m not happy where the team, where the car has been developed to.

“But that’s okay inside of the team, we want the emotion high and we have tough love, we are saying it straight out when it’s missing and nobody’s ever going to… not take it on the chin in the team.”

The Austrian subsequently admitted Mercedes “got it wrong” with their concept as they were “misguided by the data”, Wolff promising radical changes if their forthcoming upgrades aren’t enough to close the gap.

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Former F1 team boss Jordan has backed Hamilton in his criticism of the team, the 75-year-old saying the driver has every right to hit out at the team and even at Wolff.

“As a team owner you wouldn’t have liked it,” he told Express Sport.

“However, if I was a driver and I heard the team owner saying that ‘I think the engineers have let us down and they have missed something here, and they have missed something there’, I’m critical of Toto and I’m critical of the team.

“With the power and might and the knowledge and the backing they’ve had, Mercedes should be at least competitive to give us, the paying punters, a really good fight.

“I don’t want to go and see a Grand Prix [for] who’s going to come third to the Red Bulls. At the moment unfortunately that’s what’s happening. I think Toto needs to rally his troops, he needs to gain total and absolute confidence of all parties, including Lewis.

“Lewis would not have said that if there hadn’t been that feeling openly within the team. Can I criticise Lewis for saying what he said? I wouldn’t have liked it but there had to be a reason for it.

“I’d first want to find out what was the reason and was it valid? Was it justifiable? And take it from there. There’s been no repercussions to it so I’d have to say Lewis had every right to say what he said.”

Hamilton’s list of complaints about his W14 have since extended to the seat position, the Briton revealing Mercedes “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.”

But while he’d like that resolved as soon as possible, Wolff says it’s not a quick fix.

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