Hamilton suggests Mercedes “didn’t listen” to his input on 2023 car

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton indicates Mercedes did not follow his recommendations about the development direction for the W14.

In brief

Mercedes “didn’t listen” to

Hamilton suggested Mercedes did not take on his advice about changes to the team’s car for this year after their tricky 2022 campaign.

“Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car,” Hamilton told the BBC. “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’.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that a change in design philosophy would be required for its 2023 car to cut its deficit to the front after starting the season in Bahrain finishing over 50 seconds behind the winner with both of its cars.

Raikkonen returns to NASCAR

2007 F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his second start at NASCAR’s top level in the race at United States Grand Prix venue Circuit of the Americas on 26th March.

Raikkonen will drive for Trackhouse Racing, the same he made his NASCAR Cup debut with last year at Watkins Glen. It has a scheme called ‘Project 91’ where it signs drivers from outside of drivers to race its cars.

In 2011 Raikkonen made two starts in the two lower tiers of NASCAR, finishing 27th on his debut in the second-tier Xfinity Series and 15th in the third-tier Truck Series race he contested. He failed to finish his Cup race in 2022.

IndyCar team penalised following Daytona 24H win

IndyCar team Meyer Shank Racing has been caught violating the rules in North America’s IMSA sportscar championship after they won the season-opening Daytona 24 Hours race. The tam’s IndyCar pairing Helio Castoneves and Simon Pagenaud won the race alongside team mates Tom Blomqvist and Colin Braun.

The Daytona 24 Hours has been tainted by controversy
IMSA put out a statement yesterday saying: “After the completion of post-race technical inspection and both provisional and official results were released for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, IMSA became aware of the potential manipulation of tyre pressure data from the number 60 car to IMSA as the monitoring point for the minimum tyre pressure regulation. Following a thorough investigation of all cars in the class, IMSA officials today announced that the number 60 Meyer Shank Racing GTP team has been penalised for a violation of the following 2023 IMSA Sporting Regulation and SSR.”

The violation of the series operational requirements was the “intentional application of software offsets within the pressures being reported by the tire pressure monitoring system and associated car telemetry system.” MSR has been handed multiple penalties but not been stripped of its win as the results has already been declared official. This also means there are no changes to points awarded to the lower finishing positions.

Meyer Shank and its drivers have been docked 200 points each and lost all of their points counting towards IMSA’s Endurance Cup. Their prize money has been rescinded and the team must to pay a $50,000 fine. Team boss Mike Shank has been put on probation until the end of June, and IMSA also confirmed the “revocation of IMSA annual credential and indefinite suspension of IMSA membership for team engineer Ryan McCarthy.”

The data manipulation was discovered by Honda Performance Development, whose Acura ARX-06 car was raced to the disputed victory by Meyer Shank, and reported to IMSA by the manufacturer.

Euroformula changes tyre supplier for 2023

Euroformula has announced the end of an eight-year partnership with Michelin, with the Formula 3-level series switching to Hankook tyres for the 2023 season.

Michelin had supplied rubber to Euroformula since 2015, and had been planning with the series to introduce larger 18-inch wheels for 2023. However the design changes that would have been required to the Dallara 320 car used in the series meant the move did not go ahead and last year a search for a new tyre supplier began.

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Comment of the day

F1 is introducing a new rule at Imola that mandates which tyre compounds have to be used in each segment of qualifying. The prospect of it hasn’t entertained drivers, but one RaceFans reader can see the potential of making drivers use hard tyres in Q1 and mediums in Q2.

Given how cars work differently on different compounds, I can see how it might make qualifying more interesting and less predictable. So yeah, why not give it a test, might make for a more tactical race in how you have to set-up the car to work well with all compounds.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Alpinestar, Venturi Effect, Cdmracing and Guillaume Blanchet!

On this day in motorsport

The 2003 season got off to a memorable start with a lively race won by David Coulthard
  • 20 years ago today David Coulthard won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix for McLaren

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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43 comments on “Hamilton suggests Mercedes “didn’t listen” to his input on 2023 car”

  1. At some point, Mercedes need to set a balance between listening to machines and man. Wasn’t Hamilton instrumental to their success in 2019 when their pre season was horrible? Machines are not always perfect. They are supposed to be used as a guide, and I understand that they won 15 world championships with the exact methodology, and it is a difficult decision. They need some slightly more aggressive approach to some things in their system.

    1. I think the issue is the reliance by these organisations on data. Last year they admitted they did not have correlation of their data between the factory and track. I think once they identified the cause of the correlation issues they likely decided to give their concept one last go this year to see if they could transfer the theoretical performance to the track. Obviously it would seem this has not been possible and the concept either doesn’t work in reality or they can’t find the key element that is failing. I personally don’t believe they haven’t already got a b spec design ready to go.

      Obviously in recent history we’ve had other examples of this happening. Remember when Haas ignored their drivers for 6 months who told them their car upgrade didn’t work.

    2. Several, if not most, of the championships won by Hamilton with Mercedes may be attributed to the “machines”, and machines, although not perfect, are wrong less frequently than humans.

  2. If Euroformula doesn’t want them, why not send a truckload of 18-inch Michelins to Imola, and see if those improve F1 qualifying. And racing.
    The Pirellis can go in tyre walls (although I wouldn’t fancy hitting them)

  3. Was it worth it MIKE?!

  4. “My team don’t make mistakes.”

    Apriring aerodynamicist in training

    “‘yeah, you know what? We didn’t listen to you”

    Apriring aerodynamicist, now in his second year of training

  5. Well, it’s not like people weren’t surprised when they unveilled the new car insisting in the failed concept of last season. One race in, they know it was a bad idea.

    1. So I have yet to hear any person with any aerodynamics experience explain why the slim pods are so evil. The general population, and pundits say “well, it doesn’t look like Red Bull, so obviously it’s bad!!”– but without understanding the why.

      My understanding is that the slim pods are lower drag, create higher airflow, which should mean higher downforce if the “upper” air is flowing significantly faster than the “lower” air– So the question has to be, out of suspension, floor, upper body airflow, venturi tunnels, control of air turbulence from front to rear (including the front wheels), why are you (and everyone else) certain that it’s the side pod design that’s hampering Mercedes?

      It should work, and it ought to work well. I’m reminded of the 2009 McLaren MP4-24– supposedly, the worst car Hamilton’s driven (and even Brundle, who drove it, said it was awful) prior to the W14. McLaren went nuts trying to solve the problem until they did a full-scale aero run on a track (forbidden now), and discovered under certain circumstances, air from the front wing was causing the rear wing to stall– a discovery that led to the F-Duct, and DRS.

      Scale wind tunnels aren’t always the answer– I expect if Mercedes put the W14 into Wind Shear in Raleigh, NC for an afternoon, they’d find their problem in a few hours.

      1. I they were racing sidepods, you’d have a great point. But they race entire cars, with an entire aerodynamic profile over the entire length of it.
        Air has to get to the sidepod area first, and then travel through that area to the rear wheels are rear wing. Just making the sidepods smaller doesn’t necessarily reduce drag as it can induce additional turbulence and airflow problems.

        While their theory may well be sound, the application of it so far has yet to be proven to be the better design.
        Of course, they also have to separate that design aspect with all the other decisions they made throughout the process – something that is near-impossible to do.
        Even if the Merc sidepods are the ‘best’ design, the rest of the car with those sidepods on it obviously isn’t.

      2. It doesn’t work mainly because there is no way to control the air that goes to the rear tyres. Many teams when Mercedes introduced this type of sidepods said that they had thought of that design but the problems are bigger than the gains.

        1. @bluechris +1
          Seems to be the primary realization of Aston Martin.
          I expect Mercedes will introduce side pods very soon aimed at more aggressively capturing air to direct towards the diffuser. And then spend a lot of the season trying to work out what’s happening and how to improve.
          What a weird decision to persist with the 2022 package.

          1. Their major issue last year was porpoising and the ride height needed to avoid it.
            This year it seems to be missing the advantages of bulk organised air above the diffuser.
            Hopefully they come up with some bodywork that keeps some of the sealing/drag advantages they see from the current design.

      3. I used to think that too and I was convinced Mercedes was going to revolutionise F1 car design when they first unveiled the zeropods. I’m starting to think now that there are 2 main advantages of having a bigger sidepod:

        1) Managing the massive rear tyre drag esp. with the increase in tyre size from 660mm to 720mm last year. Open wheel cars are very draggy, wheel fairings are banned so the sidepods become an important piece of bodywork to divert the air around the rear wheels. In this case smaller bodywork is more draggy.

        2) Controlling the air around the bodywork to the top of the diffuser. Most teams are using the top of the sidepods to direct air to the top of the diffuser. Mercedes haven’t got the same amount of control with the lack of bodywork in that area. AM aggressively uses a wall to protect the clean air in the water slides from the front wheel wake. Mercedes are probably using vortices to achieve a similar effect but with more drag and less control.

        Combined we have a draggy car with less downforce. Mercedes engineers obviously have looked at the data and ran their design in CFD to confirm that their philosophy is a viable (or better) alternative. As a Mercedes fan I’m still hoping they find a way to unlock the car’s potential. But I have a bad feeling they’re relying too much on CFD though I’d love to be proven wrong. It’s slightly concerning during the Ted Kravitz interview that Mike Elliot seems pleased about hitting targets and couldn’t explain the front wing design other that saying it’s based on CFD. On the other hand, I continue to really admire Adrian Newey’s work in RB which is much more organic and most importantly fast.

  6. So Merc listened to Lewis since 2014 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2020. Not now for sure.
    It’s over for Merc and Lewis, the party is over.

    And scrambling of blame seems silly and childish

    The bottom line is drivers are overrated, they can’t do anything when there is no car advantage over the rest of the field.

    1. That is the sad truth isnt it. Although I would say it goes for WDC battle. Apart from that there are entertaining race battles here and there, especially with gifted drivers in a somewhat under par car. The only thing remaining for the WDC title battle is that we can say that usually the best drivers and up in the best cars. There is some merit there.

  7. The more you talk, the less you drive

  8. Disappointed that Lewis is throwing Mercedes under the bus. I wonder how many times they ignored his advice and still came up with a dominating machine… but never threw him under the bus.

    1. Yes, indeed, @todfod. I initially laughed at the recent comments from pundits and ex-drivers that suggested Lewis may split ways with Mercedes if this season is a washout. To me, these comments from Lewis seem like the first red flag.

      1. Lewis has been here before of course, @shimks. The example that comes most readily to mind is post-Malaysia 2016, where he accused the team in a TV interview of sabotaging his car. The team must be used to his outbursts by now – I doubt it will make much difference to whether he stays, ultimately.

        1. Wow, yes, I’d forgotten about that, @red-andy. He really does go on a downer when things don’t go his way. You’re right, they will be used to it by now. And so will he. I really can’t see him giving up anytime soon on winning that 8th championship with Mercedes.

          1. His behavior can hardly be a surprise. Maybe it wasnt frequent since he had the best car for a long time, but he always was like this under adversity. I know all of them are intrinsically not nice persons as it is needed to reach this level. But some are just more the villain then others. My list of them includes next to Hammi also Schumacher, Vettel, Prost, Ocon. All have that little extra being a genuinely not nice person when things dont go as planned.

    2. It’s not like this is the first time. At least he is not insinuating it’s on purpose this time.

      Hamilton is experienced enough to know this season is almost certainly a write off. Again. After the frustrations of 2021, he has again been “denied” the chance to correct what he probably sees as an injustice. Worse, it’s starting to become imaginable that he’ll never win a race again. It’s no doubt a tough adjustment.

      But at the same time, he didn’t get where he is by giving up – outbursts or not. If Mercedes is anywhere near on performance, it’d be silly to discount Hamilton.

      1. + 1. Lewis has always had his outbursts of frustration and often these are expressed during the race. Or sometimes in comments like this. Both sides know each other very well so I don’t suppose any of this is really going to make any difference to him continuing.

        Let’s put ourselves in his shoes though. At Merc he’s always been used to a dominant or very competitive car. Then suddenly they seem to get the new regulations wrong. OK these things happen and not everything in this sport goes according to plan. But to then find that his car seems to be just as far behind in a second year must be hugely disappointing. Moaning is only to be expected but we all know he won’t give up trying.

        1. Yup , how many times have we heard LH questioning something as simple as a tyre choice? And then when it turns out the other may have been better how many times has he missed the opportunity to tell highlight that on air (close to zero)?
          This seems not much. If anything I think he’s more committed to Merc year over year.

  9. Interesting openness.

    COTD: Indeed.

  10. Electroball76
    9th March 2023, 8:12

    If Lewis really did leave Merc, where else would he go in F1? I can’t picture him at Red Bull, and Ferrari would surely drive him crazy in less than a season. I’m sure Toto and co will bounce back.

    1. Lewis to Ferrari might be interesting, as I’m sure a Leclerc – Hamilton lineup can really take Max on.

      But there’s no way that Lewis would want to take a chance on a team that can’t get things right even when they have a championship contending car.

  11. And there you have it, the toys have left the pram after a single race…

    Its really time for Merc to get rid of this toxic person and move on. Get someone fresh and positive to partner George.

  12. Verstappen is again coming across as the petulant spoilt child he is. Oh wait…

  13. That IMSA story is pretty crazy. We know you cheated, but we already declared you the winner, so nothing we can do about it other than fine you and dock championship points. It’s not like they found out years later! We would never hear the end of it in the comments if that happened in F1 this season!

  14. I think some of you need to read his statement again. All he was highlighting is that the new car still has traits the same as the previous years car that Hamilton said were detrimental to performance. He’s literally just covering himself and Russell saying we asked you to design out these traits and we didn’t manage that. If he didn’t defend his advice provided last year then you’d have people claiming the car failed because of their feedback. As usual many here have read 1+1 and come up with 3 when it comes to Hamilton.

    1. @slowmo Yeah, I think it’s been ‘blown up’ a bit because it’s Lewis. And he has said some daft stuff in the past (but we all have). I don’t think he ever intended to suggest that the aero and engineering team are sat there with a pen and a pad waiting for him to tell them what to do next.

      He is probably no more clumsy with his words than any other driver, it’s just that it’s him. Mazepin managed to get the same level scrutiny (but then he did say some really daft stuff). The only surprise is that Lewis has been around the block a few times. I assume him, Max, maybe a few others on the grid contemplate just not speaking at all and would their lives be easier. Or just answer every question with “Your Mum”.

    2. Absolutely! His detractors love to have a go at Lewis the moment he says anything.

    3. That’s not all he said, though.

      “Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car,” Hamilton told the BBC. “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’.”

      It’s not like people ignored Hamilton and need to “own up” that they “didn’t listen”. There’s a huge gap and a lot of complex work between a driver noticing a problem, or rather a limitation, the engineers analysing it, and the designers then making a change that addresses the issue without causing further ones in a other parts of the design.

  15. MSR IndyCar team is not affected by the MSR IMSA Teams infraction of IMSA rules at all. Not one bit.
    Technically, and most important, legally a different entity. The next time Mclaren F1 gets a penalty for pitlane mess-up, are you going to put up a headline Mclaren IndyCar receives sanction from the FIA ?

    …I’m not even touching what the headline literally says.

    do better.

    1. My thoughts exactly. It’s awkwardly worded to seem like MSR is foremost an IndyCar team that dabbles in sports car racing, when it’s in fact the opposite.

  16. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    9th March 2023, 12:26

    Unpopular opinion maybe but I think Mercedes/Wolff/Hamilton/Russell are being a bit too rude about their car and their chances. The car is currently not a race winner, that’s clear – but it’s not far away! Even with Aston beating them on the day I’d still wager the Mercs as the 3rd fastest machine on the grid – or more – by the end of the season. Their anger at it, decrying it, complaining about who did or didn’t listen to who I just think it’s a bit petty given they’re still going to be in the fight for podiums at worst, and picking up a race win or two here and there at best.

    Is it the best start for a multiple world championship winning team? No and they should want better – and they will get better inevitably. But it’s not *bad* – they’re not struggling to get into Q3 or squabbling over 10th are they? Ask Haas, Williams or Alfa Sauber if they’d trade places and they’d chew your arm off to have that car.

    1. The car is currently not a race winner, that’s clear – but it’s not far away!

      They lost almost a full second every lap against a cruising Max Verstappen at the front.

  17. COTD.

    So basically more artificial rules to artificially spice up the show?

    It really is a show rather than a sport now then.

    Shame as the SPORT of F1 was the pinnacle of the sport. The show of GP1 feels as contrived as it is and when many of the racing fans that care about the sport see through the artificial gimmicks and contrived nonsense they will turn off aand when the low attention span casual netflix crowd get bored of the fake drama so will they and GP1 will be left with a fraction of the tand the SPORT of F1 once had.

    1. Yeah because the Q1, Q2, and Q3 formats aren’t artificial rules to spice up the sport. Y’all are very selective when you use this argument.

  18. Tiaki Porangi
    9th March 2023, 18:41

    Hamilton has made this point twice in the last week or so, that certain higher-ups in the team didn’t listen to advice about the car last year. Toto has hinted at the same as well, blaming some unnamed element in the team for not taking last year’s lessons on board. Toto is team boss, which implies that whoever he was talking about was more powerful than him, hence would have to be someone outside the immediate team, but with significant control over the team. George has hinted at exactly the same thing.
    My reading of all this is that the bosses at the parent Mercedes company are the target. Either they buckled at providing more resources for a change in car design direction, or they have planted senior team members into the F1 team who have a veto over what Toto and the drivers and engineers want to do.
    Doesn’t bode well for the team.

  19. My reading of all this is that the bosses at the parent Mercedes company are the target.

    Mercedes-Benz don’t tell the F1 design team how to build their cars.

    If anything, this is someone or a group of people who has/have repeatedly chosen bad sim data over lessons learned from running the car in real life.

  20. So for years on end, Lewis was so good that they won everything. Now he can’t win and it is the car’s fault. They fix the car, he’ll start to win again, it’s will again be because he is so good…this guy is good, at very least amongst the best ever, but the rhetoric is irritating

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