Hamilton pleased Mercedes’ car design is ‘more in the direction’ of Red Bull

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes’ decision to bring their car design more in line with Red Bull’s is paying off, but it will take a long time to close the gap to the world champions.

Mercedes brought an extensive update to their W14 for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, replacing the distinctive ‘zero sidepod’ design the team has used since the current aerodynamic regulations were introduced last year. Asked whether he was surprised it had taken the team over a year to follow the design lead Red Bull set last season, Hamilton said: “Sure.”

“I don’t know what else to say,” he continued. “It definitely is difficult when you see it and you see the proof of the concept and it’s working.”

However he said it will take time for Mercedes to extract as much performance from the philosophy as Red Bull can. “It’s not as easy as just changing it,” he said, pointing out Aston Martin also adopted a similar style of design to Red Bull early in 2022.

“You saw that last year the Aston just changed the sidepods and they didn’t go faster. It took a whole heap of work over the winter.

“The fact is we are more in that direction. But still, the airflow that they have, how they control their wake and everything is still a little bit different to ours.”

Red Bull are especially strong on the straights, as they are able to achieve high cornering speeds without using large wings which increase drag and compromise their top speed.

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“I think there’s work we need to do in order to be able to use a smaller wing [like] they have,” said Hamilton. “We’re still not as efficient, they still have less drag, they still have more downforce pretty much everywhere. And so we’ve got a lot of work to catch up.”

The team intended to introduce its upgrades at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, but that was cancelled due to flooding. As a result it has brought the new parts to Monaco, the slowest circuit on the calendar, where the effect of the changes is hard to evaluate.

Team principal Toto Wolff said they will continue to study the changes at the next races in Spain and Canada.

“I think Barcelona is not enough. I think we need to collect data, that’s why we put it also here in Monaco, collect further analysis, which we will do in Barcelona. Montreal is a little bit of an outlier again.

“Over the next races, hopefully we can really increase the performance of the car. But it’s not going to suddenly be right there. That’s why I’m actually pleased with the time gap that we have today. That was always a mediocre race track for us, so that’s okay.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
    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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    9 comments on “Hamilton pleased Mercedes’ car design is ‘more in the direction’ of Red Bull”

    1. They’ve got a huge amount of work to do to catch up. Red Bull are already on their 2nd iteration of this design concept and by the time Mercedes can truly design a car from the ground up with this concept in mind, Red Bull will be on their 3rd version.

    2. And now that we’ve all seen the floor of the Red Bull, maybe it will go even more in the Red Bull direction.

    3. From what I could work out from tech analyses, the front suspension redesign is the really critical bit so far, keeping the nose more anchored and stable close to the ground. Obviously still a ton of other stuff to work out to get close to the RB but it seems to be a starting point. Basically this is where the W14 actually started, rather than the W13b Mercedes started the season with.

      1. And only for next year Mercedes can reposition the cockpit and adjust the wheelbase to optimize the flow and car balance for the RB/AM concept. This year the car will always be limited.

        1. True, Hamilton had also complained about the positioning of the cockpit ‘over the front wheels’ as limiting the driver’s feel for car balance. The stiffer front nose also supposedly provides less dynamic feedback to the driver, so quite how that works out will have to be seen. All stuff not replicable on simulators. Mercedes will have to experiment over the next third of a season to sort out the 2024 design and that will mean listening properly to their drivers this time.

    4. So basically, a half-solution like this is already better than one year and a half of what they got with their zero-sidepod concept?
      Talk about a bad bet.

    5. Yes maybe more in the Red Bull direction, but Red Bull have at least one driver capable of winning with that concept. Coming up on two years no wins.

      1. Two drivers. And both more than once.

        1. Quite right, apologies.
          I was thinking more in terms of the F1drivers championship.

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