Lewis Hamilton says he “knew” Mercedes had not chosen the correct design philosophy for their latest Formula 1 car the first time he saw it.
Speaking in the FIA press conference ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton said the team expected they might not be immediately on the pace at the first race, but hoped they wouldn’t be far off. The scale of their deficit came as a major disappointment, he admitted.
“The comments that I would hear [from the team] is that we probably won’t hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we should be there or thereabouts,” said Hamilton. “So it was a bit of a shock when that wasn’t obviously the case.”
Hamilton revealed he had misgivings about the W14 as soon as he saw it. “I knew that we weren’t in the right place when you saw the car for the first time, it looked still so much different to those of our competitors,” he said.
“It’s always nerve-wracking in that moment, but it looked nice – obviously the colour looks nice but I honestly don’t care what colour it is as long as it’s quick. But we will hopefully mould it into a winning car at some stage.”
In a recent interview Hamilton suggested Mercedes “didn’t listen” to his feedback on the car design last year. He said today that “wasn’t necessarily the best choice of words.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
“But there are of course times where you’re not in agreement with certain team members,” he continued. “What’s important is that we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together.
“I still have 100% belief in this team, it is my family and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.”
However Hamilton added “we all need a kick, we all need to get on” after realising how far behind their rivals they have fallen.
“The proof is in the pudding, we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance and we’ve got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves in order to close the gap to [Red Bull]. They will run away with it most likely this year unless Ferrari can probably stop them, we’ll wait and see.
“But as I said, hopefully at some point during the year we’re hopeful we might be able to close the gap. At that point it’ll be probably too late in terms of fighting for a championship but we can still turn some heads hopefully.”
Mercedes are “in the process” of deciding how to tackle their performance deficit, Hamilton added.
Become a RaceFans Supporter
RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.
Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
- Two races, no points: How 2023 compares to McLaren’s worst starts to a season
- Don’t complain about Red Bull dominating F1, they deserve it – Sainz
- Unheard team radio highlights from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
- McLaren designer Key out as Brown says team must speed up its car development
- Alfa Romeo identify “massive debris” which ruined Bottas’ race
53 comments on “I knew Mercedes’ latest car wasn’t right the first time I saw it – Hamilton”
Nulla Pax (@nullapax)
16th March 2023, 16:50
Sidepods ….. I’m guessing sidepods!
16th March 2023, 21:07
Turn around! There’s plenty on the shelves XD
16th March 2023, 16:57
What a engineer genius he must be.
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
17th March 2023, 10:52
@itsme I had the same reaction reading the title, but it’s hard not to agree when 90% of the grid takes one route and you insist on going on a different one which already last year proved troublesome.
Schumacher and Irvine had the same worries when the 96 Ferrari was unveiled, I remember reading somewhere…
16th March 2023, 17:17
He’s not wrong that it’s ugly, but let’s just say that Lewis would be in very rarified air in the field of fluid dynamics if he could visualize a car’s flow field at first sight.
16th March 2023, 17:33
I wouldn’t be surprised though, after all Greta Thumberg can see carbon dioxide with her naked eyes.
Jason Blankenship (@jblank)
16th March 2023, 19:01
@tifoso1989 Post of the day right there.
16th March 2023, 22:38
How DARE you?? *mean face*
17th March 2023, 2:04
lmao rofl lol lmao rofl lollmao rofl lol lmao rofl lollmao rofl lollmao rofl lollmao rofl lollmao rofl lol
17th March 2023, 5:04
@tifoso1989 Hope that made you feel more like the Alpha Male you are.
17th March 2023, 8:26
@wsrgo sorry for being a little slow, but what does your comment have to do with @tifoso1989 ‘s?
17th March 2023, 9:20
It’s probably closer to the mark than replying to a comment about the eye-ability of complex flow fields with a quip about a young Swedish woman.
17th March 2023, 13:08
What’s the relationship between being an Alpha Male and the nonsense of people saying they can visualize things of invisible things with their own eyes ?
Jokes (or anti-woke jokes) are forbidden. There will be always in this highly sensitive society some people who will feel offended at the slightest thing and will revert to insult and try to cancel the person who tell the joke.
16th March 2023, 17:18
Maybe I’m crazy but I don’t see the uproar:
He was told to expect something better but had doubts when he saw what was handed to him to race with considering the prior year. It’s a fair assessment ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
16th March 2023, 18:00
You don’t see why there’s uproar? It’s simple… Lewis or Max said something so the kids on here got all excited. Happens every time. Look at the article about Max being ill and you’ll see the other side of the same coin.
17th March 2023, 7:27
I’m a great admirer or Hamilton, Wolff and Mercedes’ achievements but they’ve been droning on about this for a month now. There’s multiple quotes of how 1,400 workers at the factory were misguided but the 2 drivers saw the issues instantly. It’s coming across as entitled now – I’ve never seen 2 drivers collectively bash a car concept from day one when all data is from one track. If the team say the benefits will be in the long term then that should be the party line.
It’s easy in retrospect for anyone to look at Mercedes’ concept and deride it. But it reminds me of Gordon Murray talking about a change from the BT42 to the BT44 where he put a small ‘v’ on the underbody to generate vortices and force more air over the top of the car which created a rudimentary ground effect as early as 1975. No matter who you are, you can’t just see that difference and the performance gains it can bring. You have to trust the people and the numbers.
Wolff is permitted to be hyper critical as he’s the top of the house, it’s his job on the line. But the drivers can spare me this sanctimony – get in what you’re given and drive the wheels off it. You’d think this was the McLaren-Honda 2015 era not a team a dozen of seconds off a podium.
17th March 2023, 7:58
This seems like a nuanced, balanced and correctly voiced view on the matter.
You must be new on the internet, that’s not how it works
17th March 2023, 12:24
Haha thanks @baasbas
17th March 2023, 10:54
You are adding a lot of nuance here that Hamilton did not add himself. Therefore you are presenting his opinion differently than he did.
He did not say “he had doubts”. He literally said he KNEW they were not in the right place with it, and that was only after seeing it and not after having driven it.
16th March 2023, 17:39
I remember Horner being so nervous about the car to the point he said it was illegal. While Horner is not a technician, he surely must have consulted with his engineers before issuing such statement. All the experts agreed that the Mercedes sidepodless concept looked scary to say the least.
On another note, Elkann must make a move for Mike Elliot this weekend before things settle for Mercedes. He must be so down hearing this nonsense.
16th March 2023, 18:02
Yeah – and then then they spent a season proving that the concept isn’t very good. Then they stuck with the same concept and are acting surprised that it’s once again, not very good.
16th March 2023, 19:57
I don’t believe their issue is with the sidepodless concept in itself otherwise a return to their “fake” testing car would have sufficed to regain competitivity. Even with the radical changes they are promising, I don’t expect them to overtake Ferrari as the second force of the championship.
Mercedes problem which was obvious even when they were obliterating the opposition is that they have been heavily relying on data, AI, simulation in all of their activities and decision making processes. For example, they struggled with porpoising because it appears after certain speed that they couldn’t replicate in their wind tunnel.
On the other hand RBR and Ferrari delivered the best interpretations of the ground effect rules, the RB18 and F1-75 (before TD039) and coincidentally they both have designers (Newey and Byrne) who worked in the first ground effect era. While Newey designed the RB18 and its suspension system, Byrne’s contribution was limited as he worked as a part-time external consultant.
Moreover, Newey was reluctant to abandon his high rake concept in the hybrid era pre-2022 despite the fact that Mercedes schooled everyone with their low rake concept. While there are many factors that contributed to the 2021 RBR success but still Newey didn’t retract and this has been one of his traits since his time at Williams.
17th March 2023, 10:58
But the thing is that a concept isn’t just composed of loose elements. An F1 car starts from a concept and everything, to the smallest details, are designed to work within that concept. The W13, and W14, start from the sidepodless concept and have the rest of the car designed to optimize that concept. You cannot just bolt on sidepods (aka go back to that initial testing car) and expect it to work well, because the rest of the car would not be designed to work with sidepods.
So yes, the issue very probably lies in the sidepodless concept. They cannot get it to work.
16th March 2023, 17:39
Leaving Lewis being an ‘aerodynamicist by sight’ aside. The old adage that ‘if it looks quick – it probably is’, I think has been a pretty solid base historically.
Did any of us look at the concept when it came out and not wince a little? It looked very brave to say the least. It looked like they’d gone all in on something. It was going to be two seconds faster than anything else, or a pain that never stops creating problems.
It doesn’t take an aerodynamicist to see that at first sight, the car always looked a bold gamble.
16th March 2023, 19:10
Maybe, but a lot of people also seemed rather annoyed about it because the assumption was that Mercedes had come up with something special. And on the basis of their unprecedented dominant string of title wins, the assumption many made was that theirs was the best idea and nobody else had been clever enough to come up with it. Thus turning the 2022 season into, not a shake-up, but more dominance. Hence some rival teams subtly making the point they doubted the Mercedes design was even allowed.
Of course, we did get more dominance, just not by Mercedes.
17th March 2023, 9:07
Ross Brawn came up with something quick. People keep forgetting he was responsible for that car and that he’s gone.
17th March 2023, 11:01
This isn’t entirely true. It did cause some stir, but Haas said one year ago the sidepodless concept was their first design and that they trialed it in the wind tunnel. They saw advantage in slow corners but decided not to pursue it as they assessed wider side pods were the better option.
So at least Haas thought of it as well.
Gaspar Palagyi (@palagyi)
16th March 2023, 21:17
Well, that saying is just a saying. BGP 001 didn’t look astonishingly quick, and yet it was. The 2018 Toro Rosso, the 2013 Force India or the 2001 Jordan all had very formidable looks, and none of them were really going places. All goes to show how it’s impossible to narrow down complicated problems to simple solutions.
17th March 2023, 9:10
Yeah, the Brawn was pretty hideous. The god awful livery played a role too.
16th March 2023, 18:08
Driver with an opinion says something that isn’t holding the corporate line, and people slate them. I’d rather a driver, any driver, feel they can be open about such things instead of giving a happy face and giving some corporate BS. If Mercedes have an issue with this, then build a better car – simple. Compared to the things Fernando has said over the years, this is nothing more than a flick of a raised eyebrow.
17th March 2023, 5:06
@tsgoodchild It’s not a corporate statement, it’s making himself look better. Megalomaniacs are like that.
NS Biker (@rekibsn)
16th March 2023, 18:33
Seems to be a rather unique start to the season, at least compared to earlier years.
A common theme across many of the teams has either the drivers and/or the team principals beating up on the folks that designed and built the cars.
McLaren is surprisingly quiet, but you get the sense that they are not happy with the new creation. Norris is being very diplomatic and should be commended for his efforts. How long will it last.?
At Williams, J. Vowles has been noted to complain about a lack of infrastructure, resources and a deficit in the expertise of the folks in the team (that latter is not a good motivating approach). Yes of course, the rules need to change for their benefit.
Ferrari seems to be going through a continuation of what started last season, with the underlying expectation of a few more heads to roll or head South.
At Mercedes, if publicity and continuous headlines is the goal, chalk them up as winners. Problem is it looks more like they are getting ready for a major upheaval. Could be an opportunity for a Predictions Contest, who, how many, when..?
Interesting that Alpine (especially), Hass, Alfa Romeo and Alfa Tauri all seem to be keeping their heads down and getting on with “it”. Good on them.
Of all the ten teams, Aston Martin and Red Bull hardly get any press and certainly nothing showing up about tossing the toys out of the pram. Is everything coming up roses.? Likely not, but the silence is golden.
Man, this is going to be an interesting season, in spite of what goes on, on-track.
Darryn Smith (@darryn)
16th March 2023, 18:46
He’s been getting in race cars for over 30 years now. I’m guessing he knows what’s fast and not by now. He isn’t claiming he could do better.
Green Flag (@greenflag)
16th March 2023, 18:54
Unless there’s a poster here that has 8 WDCs I’d say Hamilton’s thoughts are valid.
17th March 2023, 9:08
If he were talking about the first time he drove car your post would make sense. However, it makes no sense in this context.
16th March 2023, 19:43
It took Newey 45 years to become the God of Aero that he is today. But apparently Clown Ham just ‘knows’ this all by instinct.
…Red Bull must be begging him to replace Adrian when he finally retires!!!
16th March 2023, 20:08
What is wrong with you. How many times have you or someone you know executed a task, be it at home or work and you have stood back and said “that does not look right”? That is exactly what Lewis has done. He has been in F1 since 2007 and knows when something about the car he is about to race does not feel or look right.
But hey this does not suit your narrative so you start to slate him. With respect if anyone is a clown here it is you because of the toxic nonsense you are spewing. As the saying goes ‘if you have nothing good to say keep your mouth shut’
Have a nice day sir.
16th March 2023, 20:21
That’s not how opinions and discussions work, if you don’t like it, its probably best that you toddle off the internet as you clearly can’t cope with reality.
Nobody can say a car is fast simply by looking at it, even God Newey wouldn’t dare to state that. So having a less than average intelligent racing driver thinking he knows better, means hes VERY worthy of being called a clown!
17th March 2023, 0:48
I expect Hamilton has a significantly higher IQ than a b1got like you.
17th March 2023, 0:56
Oh my, is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it superman? No it’s a keyboard warrior!
Another day another slant at Lewis. Bore off.
17th March 2023, 7:46
850 engineers, designers and technicians that put together a car for Lewis and they are all wrong, but Lewis the genius is right? The Lewis no logic licking fan club is alive and well and living on Racefans. He is just a driver and not the genius that he makes out to be. His ego is enormous and frankly getting very tiresome. How many times has he made outrageous comments about his team and then had to take them back? Bore off will you.
17th March 2023, 9:30
Its best you toddle off the internet because it seems all you like to do is slate Lewis. In your little bubble discussions may include berating others but not in any discussion I am involved in. You have already called him a clown and a less than average intelligent racing driver. What gives you the right to call him this?
I think maybe you struggle to understand English but the guy clearly says “I knew that we weren’t in the right place when you saw the car for the first time, it looked still so much different to those of our competitors,” How do you then translate this into I know the car is poop because I know better than the engineers. He is simply telling us that he thinks the car is not going to be fast because it was not last year and the team have stuck with the same concept this year.
17th March 2023, 11:09
No he isn’t telling us he “thinks”. He is telling us he “knew”. And that just from seeing it.
I’ll take the assumption here that the engineers also “saw” the car, and apparently they didn’t “know” they were in a bad place with the car.
So yep, saying you “know” the car isn’t good just from seeing it (and not from driving it) literally equals saying you know better than the engineers.
17th March 2023, 9:14
@IPBA George Russel has stated in an interview that BOTH he and Lewis agreed on the development direction last year and now Lewis is throwing the team under the bus. Perhaps you should do more reading and research before you hint that people should shut up. You can’t always be nice when you feel the need to criticize.
17th March 2023, 9:19
OK so Lewis and George agreed on the development direction but whats to say it was followed by the team. Maybe Lewis and George said one thing and team said no the data says otherwise. Can you link to an article which clearly states that the W14 we saw in Bahrain is the one both drivers agreed on? If yes then I retract my previous comment, if not then I stand by what I originally said.
17th March 2023, 9:31
Well he was team mate to Fernando Alonso, so he learnt from the best at dissing teams he worked for.
17th March 2023, 4:38
It always is
17th March 2023, 4:51
As far as I can see from all the F1 reporting, Lewis is the only driver moaning about not having the fastest car and throwing the team under the bus. Time for Merc to get an-other into the seat, someone who appreciates the huge privilege.
17th March 2023, 8:45
Alonso is also good at criticising his own team every time he has a chance to do so.
17th March 2023, 13:53
@f1mre Alonso usually waits until after a few races with a team before he starts that. Certainly not after one race of a new season. Plus he still keeps getting hired whenever he leaves a team, so teams must still want what he has to offer. Which having seen his drive in this year’s Aston Martin, is quite a lot.
I say this as someone who was no fan of Alonso in years prior to McLaren, yet even as a McLaren fan when he was criticising the car (and particularly the Honda engines of that time), he was generally still driving his heart out, just at the back of the field
17th March 2023, 10:38
The one bad thing about this site @keithcollantine is all the duplicate accounts doing comments. In reality it’s only one racist, but it creates a very ugly impression.
17th March 2023, 11:43
100% agree. Well said.
19th March 2023, 11:14
Being the greatest aerodynamicist of all time, should take a full-time job on that
Comments are closed.