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Hamilton Bahrain Mercedes W14

Hamilton: Mercedes need to be ‘turning it around’ and ‘owning up’ to weaknesses

Mercedes have had an underwhelming start to the 2023 season

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Lewis Hamilton has expressed his frustration towards Mercedes claiming the team didn’t listen to him on the design of the W14. 

Hamilton Bahrain Mercedes W14 Russell
44 Lewis Hamilton during the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix of the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship. (Photo by Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Last weekend, the 2023 Formula One season officially began with round one in Bahrain being complete. The season opener saw Red Bull dominate with a 1-2 in Qualifying and the Grand Prix.

However, unfortunately for Mercedes it wasn’t quite the start to the season they wanted. The team are third in the championship standings, ahead of Ferrari, but behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, who are in second.

In 2022, Lewis Hamilton managed to achieve a podium-finish, but this year neither Mercedes were in the top three. In Qualifying, George Russell qualified P6 and Hamilton qualified in P7.

Over the course of the Grand Prix, both Mercedes drivers battled with Fernando Alonso. The W14 also looked to have improved on last year in regards to porpoising as the Silver Arrows no longer suffer from the bouncing.

But it wasn’t the weekend the team would have liked after finishing P5 and P7. Since the weekend, Russell has said it’s time to go “back to the drawing board”. Team Principal Toto Wolff wasn’t that confident in the W14 after Qualifying and now he is admitting the team are trying a new concept already.

Hamilton has now spoken out about Mercedes’ performance and shared his honest opinion about their current situation on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

Hamilton’s critical stance on Mercedes

Speaking to the BBC, Hamilton admitted that he feels he knows “what a car needs.” 2023 marks the seven-time world champion’s  10th season with Mercedes. But now, Hamilton feels as if the team didn’t listen to him when developing the 2023 car. 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 work to do.'”

Whilst there is no porpoising on the W14, Mercedes still have a lot of issues to work through. They were off the pace of the front-runners in the Grand Prix and Russell was forced to retire from FP2 on Friday due to a reliability issue.

Hamilton continued, suggesting a solution for Mercedes. He said: “We’ve got to look into the balance through the corners, look at all the weak points and just huddle up as a team, that’s what we do.

“We’re still multi-World Champions you know. It’s just they haven’t got it right this time, they didn’t get it right last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it right moving forwards.”

Staff changes

In recent years a lot of staff have left Mercedes moving to other teams. Most recently, James Vowles departed from the team and moved to Williams as Team Principal. However, James Allison is reportedly returning to the team after leaving in 2021. With Allison returning, things may begin to look more positive for the Brackley-based team.

Reports also suggest that Allison has had input into the upgrades Mercedes will bring to Imola. It is still early days in the season and despite Hamilton having “enjoyed” the “couple of battles” during the Grand Prix, the team are aware they are “not quite there” yet.

On the Chequered Flag podcast, Hamilton admitted that: “I’ve had many cars like this, particularly back in the McLaren days, and I don’t know when or how we’re going to do it in terms of turning it around, but it’s going to have to happen.”

With upgrades due in Imola for Mercedes, the team have four other rounds beforehand. The next race is on the streets of Jeddah. Will Mercedes be able to turn it around this season or will we see Aston Martin beat both Mercedes and Ferrari in the championship?

Headline Feature Image: GettyImages

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