Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Mercedes still have some of last year’s “balance limitations” – Hamilton

2023 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says that the Mercedes W14 retains some of the “balance limitations” of last year’s car.

The Mercedes driver visibly struggled with the rear of his W14 during his running in the early session yesterday. Speaking at a press conference before he took over the car for the last time in the final session of testing, Hamilton said that the team were trying to iron out some of the balance problems that had also afflicted the team’s 2022 machine.

“They’re just things that we’re working through,” Hamilton told media including RaceFans. “Some of the balance limitations that we had last year are just present. So we’re working through them.”

Hamilton’s team mate George Russell covered 83 laps in today’s early session, making up in some way for the track time lost in Friday’s evening session when he suffered a hydraulic failure in the final hours. Hamilton admitted Mercedes had not enjoyed an easy test so far.

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“I think it’s difficult to sum it up,” he said. “I think we’ve had a couple of difficult days.

“Yesterday, particularly, was difficult. The first day didn’t feel too bad, yesterday was a little bit more of a struggle. I think George has had a much better morning today, a bit like the first day. I get to go in half an hour, so hopefully we’ve got the set up in a bit of a better place.”

Despite the team’s challenges with their new W14 car, Hamilton said that the excessive porpoising that plagued its predecessor has been near eliminated.

“Right now, the bouncing that we had has pretty much gone,” Hamilton said. “So that’s a huge step for us.

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“It’s nice to drive without the bouncing for once. But there are still some underlying things that we have been working through.”

Hamilton says he is motivated by the positive mentality he sees from his Mercedes team despite the disappointment of last season and the challenges they’ve faced so far this pre-season.

“I’m really proud of everyone in the team for continuing to remain positive after a tough year last year,” he said. “Amazing work through winter for us to arrive and have the mileage that we’ve had.

“I’ve been here a long, long time and every single year they arrive with the same mental focus and determination to fix whatever issues we have. So I enjoy being in the offices, they’re back there just churning away, going through the data and really proud of everyone in the garage. So we’ll hopefully get there.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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3 comments on “Mercedes still have some of last year’s “balance limitations” – Hamilton”

  1. Bug or feature?
    Truth or sandbagging?

    We find out in a weeks time :)

    (well I don’t – I’m on holiday in a remote location with no mobile or internet connection … but I will catch up the weekend after ;P)

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    25th February 2023, 14:14

    I don’t think you can really tell after a 3 days of testing whether a car is good or not. Some cars are easier to set up than others so they are immediately faster but the ceiling might be lower in terms of what they can extract from it.

    The Red Bull looks almost identical to the RB18 they ran at Abu Dhabi so it would be a surprise if they weren’t out in front at the start of the season. Mercedes will close in on them throughout the season though – the question is how quickly they can start that process.

  3. I’m going to predict that the W14 has more development potential than the RB19 or the SF23. We didn’t see it last year because they spent most of the year understanding the problems with, what in hindsight, now appears to be suspension issues.

    I think the W14 is a bit of a “diva”, in that it’s quite sensitive to setup, but Mercedes has demonstrated they can deal with such a car in the past, and win races.

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