Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.
Lewis Hamilton has revealed he was aware he wouldn’t be in contention for the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship when he first drove the Mercedes W14 car in February.
Mercedes entered the year aiming to rebound from a tough 2022 season that had seen the side slump from winning eight consecutive titles to third in the standings.
But the German marque again encountered trouble getting on top of the latest ground effect machinery to end a campaign without a single victory for the first time since 2011.
Hamilton admits that he became concerned by the competitiveness of Mercedes’ latest challenger when he tested it initially at Silverstone in the team’s shakedown.
“When I first drove the car in February I knew immediately that it wasn’t a championship-winning car,” Hamilton conceded.
“It felt identical to the previous year’s car so that was definitely a concern.”
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 at a team photograph. 23.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Preparation Day.
However, Hamilton, who ended third in the Drivers’ standings, credited Mercedes for recovering from its sluggish start to secure second in the Constructors’ Championship.
With Mercedes opting to chase a revised concept next season, the seven-time World Champion is optimistic that the team is on the right track to restoring its former glories.
“The credit I give to just us as a team coming together, the focus on just maximising with what we have,” he continued. “And a huge amount of work that we’ve done in the background to just try to maximise each weekend. I think on my side, I think I’ve been very, very consistent generally, apart from one race probably this year; generally been another good, consistent year for me.
“But there’s also lots of areas that I can continue to improve.
“But when we’re on the podium in Austin and in Mexico, that’s down to the amazing people that I get to work with who have just not given up in the year and continue to push.
“And we have improved the car, ultimately not as much as we want but I think we really have. I feel like more than ever we have a North Star, we know where we’re going and know where we need to get to. And so now it’s just all hands on deck we just all need to be rowing at the same pace.”
Mercedes’ decision to persevere with its ‘zeropod’ concept for 2023 was inspired by the team’s breakthrough win in Brazil last year, where George Russell led a 1-2 finish.
Although this year’s Interlagos event proved disastrous for Mercedes, Hamilton insists he was “grateful” that its struggles validated the side’s choice to pursue a newfound direction.
“I don’t know if they needed necessarily to be reminded of how much work needs to be done but there’s always good things to take from a difficult weekend like that and it’s definitely, when you have those sorts of kicks, it puts things into perspective,” he explained.
“I definitely think with last year, end of season, we had that win. And whilst it was a real big lift for the team, maybe made us think that we were going to be better moving on to the next year.
“And so I’m actually grateful for the experience because the guys still know that we are still not as close as we would like to think, and meaning that we have to work harder, and we just have to do a better job all round but no one in the team is under any illusions so we realise that we’ve got a steep mountain to climb.”
Keyword: Hamilton reveals moment he knew Mercedes W14 wasn’t a title-contender