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Lewis Hamilton and the W14

Hamilton admits W14 brought ‘frustrations’ and doubt from the very beginning

Despite having another winless season, Lewis Hamilton finished 2023 third in the standings 51 points behind Sergio Perez

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Lewis Hamilton reveals his thoughts on the 2023 season, admitting the W14 brought frustrations and doubt.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The 2023 season has been another to forget for Mercedes. Coming from 2022, a season where porpoising had plagued the team, they were hopeful of improvements for 2023. However, things didn’t go the way they wanted.

Mercedes finished the year in P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, just beating Ferrari by three points. Lewis Hamilton was the highest-placed driver in the standings, other than the two Red Bull drivers, and George Russell finished the year 25 points behind Carlos Sainz.

However, 2023 has seen Mercedes struggle with multiple issues on the W14. Throughout the year, both the drivers and Team Principal Toto Wolff have shared their honest opinions about the car.

Back in Mexico, Hamilton said the W14 has been “a nightmare to drive” whilst Toto Wolff admitted that in order to catch Red Bull, there is “Mount Everest to climb”.

Now the season has ended, Hamilton has revealed when he knew the W14 wasn’t a strong car. As reported by The Race, the seven-time world champion was cautious from the very beginning, but has admitted that there will always be times when a driver questions if it is themselves or the machinery.

Hamilton’s candid comments

2022, whilst a difficult year for Mercedes, still saw the team stand on the top step of the podium. George Russell took his first Grand Prix victory in Sao Paulo. Unfortunately, 2023 didn’t see the same.

This season has been a tough one with Mercedes failing to clinch a race win, meaning Hamilton has now had two consecutive seasons without a win. The Brit did take pole position this year in Hungary and has stood on the podium five times, most recently in Mexico City. Russell also achieved podium finishes in Spain and Abu Dhabi.

But with the season over, Hamilton has shared his thoughts. The Mercedes driver reflected on the weeks leading to the first Grand Prix where teams were completing winter testing in Bahrain.

Speaking on his initial thoughts, Hamilton said:

“I remember being in the garage… just trying to think. I remember having bouncing still. I remember it feeling exactly the same, and definitely it was not a great feeling… the car had all these problems. So I just knew it was going to be a long year.

“I was a little bit more apprehensive in February compared to the previous year, because the previous year [I’d been told] the car is amazing, it’s unique, no one’s going to have anything like it.

“And then we got to the first test… So this time, I was a little bit more cautious when I was listening, and I was like: we will see.”

Frustrations and doubt were present for Hamilton

Hamilton confirmed that from his side frustrations were present. After the first two rounds of 2023, Hamilton admitted that he was “uncomfortable” and didn’t “feel connected to this car”. Explaining more on this, he continue saying:

“There were frustrations because I had asked for certain changes and they clearly weren’t done. But that’s how it goes when you’re working.

“Everyone’s emotions are high. And everyone was still working so hard but it’s just not coming to us. So it’s getting frustrating at some points, but then you have just got to channel that energy towards working.

“There’s nothing you can do except work towards trying to improve it. Luckily, I had a lot of experience of it in life. So, I was able to channel that pretty well.”

With his optimistic attitude of persevering, Hamilton did still have moments of doubt. The Mercedes driver revealed that when you’re not feeling connected to the car, it can raise some questions. He said:

“There are always going to be moments when you’re like, ‘Is it me or is it the car?’. Do you still have it? Has it gone?

“Because you’re missing that… when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you, and you get that spark, it’s extraordinary, and that’s what you’re in the search for.

“Of course [I had these moments of doubt]; I’m only human. If anyone in the world tells you they don’t have those things they’re in denial. We’re all human beings.”

During the season, there have been moments of disappointment for Mercedes, such as Hamilton’s P2 disqualification from Austin. But despite that, Hamilton has been pleased with his performance, saying his “race craft and race pace” have “been really good”.

Now with 91 days until the first race in Bahrain, Mercedes will be working hard to ensure 2024 is a big improvement on the previous two seasons. Both Hamilton and Russell are staying with the Silver Arrows for next year and only time will tell how they will perform in 2024.

Headline image: GettyImages

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