(L to R): Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Hamilton says Mercedes have strongest package since 2021 and targets Red Bull

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ car is performing better than at any stage since the current set of Formula 1 rules were introduced at the beginning of last year.

After finishing second to Max Verstappen in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton said he wants to ensure the team starts next year in a position to fight Red Bull. But he’s also hoping Mercedes close the gap to Formula 1’s dominant force over the rest of this year.

Mercedes introduced a major upgrade to its car at the previous race in Monaco, but knew they wouldn’t be able to fully explore its potential until they had taken it to a more conventional circuit. Following his strong drive to second place in the Spanish Grand Prix, passing an Aston Martin and a Ferrari on the way, Hamilton was full of praise for his updated W14.

“The car felt great today,” he said on Sunday evening at the Circuit de Catalunya. “Friday was a real struggle with the balance, it was way out of the window. It was very hard to drive, very unpredictable. And then we did some great work overnight.

Hamilton easily passed Stroll on his way to second
“We’ve got a great team, with Mick [Schumacher] back in the simulator on Friday night, he did some great work which helped us get on the right track on Saturday. I think we did pretty decent work in trying to understand the different downforce levels. In the race today the car felt great.”

However he admitted their performance may have been flattered by the nature of the circuit, which largely featured medium and high-speed corners with few slow bends. “They normally say if you’re quick in Barcelona then the car should generally be good everywhere, but I think we will be strong in the next races,” he said.

“There will be times when the Aston may be slightly ahead, or the Ferrari maybe is ahead but I think our race pace continues to be a strength of ours, as it was last year. This weekend particularly we’ve understood the car even more so I think we can count on that being strong moving forward. We’ve just got to try to lift the overall performance of the car a little bit more to try to close the gap to [Red Bull].”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The updated W14 is “definitely the best the car’s been the past year and a half,” said Hamilton. “So that’s kudos to the amazing group of people we have back at the factory who continue to work hard and push the car forward.

Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Spanish Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
“It felt the best this weekend, it felt the best yesterday and today than it’s felt for the past 14/15 months, whatever it is. And so that’s super-encouraging, I think, not only for me but for everybody in the team. This will be a big boost for everybody’s morale. And we’re going to take that energy on to developing the car.”

However he admitted he “couldn’t match the times that Max was doing” in the race as the Red Bull driver cruised to win by 24 seconds.

“With the current car that we have, I don’t think we’ll be matching their performance, but we’re working on improving the car,” he said. “With the current package we’re limited to the pace that we had today but I think there’s a huge amount of work and studying and improvement that we hopefully will have coming in the future.”

Although Hamilton does not yet have a contract to drive for the team beyond this season, he said his priority is ensuring they start next year in a position to challenge Red Bull.

“Naturally, they should also be progressing through the year, so we need to be taking big chunks out of them with every step we take. I think today they were a good few tenths ahead of us. Maybe half a second ahead of us per lap – and on a single lap, that’s a little bit bigger. But I think we’re going in the right direction and I know we have something in the pipeline moving forward, so I’m hoping that at least by the end of the year, maybe we can could challenge them.

“I’m more focused on making sure next year we have the car to challenge them from day one. And the further we continue to push this car this year, the more that impacts next year also, in some ways. The more we learn about this car also, that also sets us in the right direction.

“It’s [about] trying to find the right balance. They’re so far ahead and ultimately Max will continue to win this year – but that means they can start on their development for next year sooner, earlier than anyone else if they haven’t already – and that’s the danger. So, we’ve just got to keep working hard but also try to get the right balance.”

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 go ad-free

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

    Browse all 2023 Spanish Grand Prix articles

    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    10 comments on “Hamilton says Mercedes have strongest package since 2021 and targets Red Bull”

    1. JellyBellyCustard
      5th June 2023, 10:27

      Best of the rest is as good as it’s getting this year, a clean race saw MB are still a full pit stop behind Max.

    2. I hope they’ll make it. It’s all about details. RB19 is a car that perfectly exploits floor design because its roll characteristic is perfectly harmonized with the initial rake. When it starts to roll, with the front CoR higher than the rear, it levels the floor with the ground, maybe even keeping the rear little bit higher. However, according to the plank wear it seams that it’s perfectly aligned with the ground. This ‘transition’ enabled by floor and suspension design is beyond me tbh. Mercedes is less raked and under roll kills the floor airflow under acceleration, hence sudden snaps of oversteer happen. Great work by RBR!

    3. And to think they wasted 5 races and resources insisting on a doomed concept for no good reason at all..

      1. A little harsh. With the cost cap, they had the choice of developing the W13, or developing a new chassis– developing the W13, which actually won in Brazil last year, seemed like it might be a good idea, as it would be significantly cheaper than starting over.

        They made the decision to go with the W14B pretty early in the year, but you can’t just toss together a totally new aero concept overnight. They’ve been working on these upgrades since winter testing, I would guess.

        1. Yeah, part of it is about hindsight. Part about the cost cap actually working to limit how much money any team can throw at things. And it gave us a bit more variety as well as a relatively close field.

          I do think this show Mercedes largely still have the team to do the job (just compare how Ferrari is even more rattled by what it’s updates are doing and they keep making baffling strategy calls) and it gives me some hope that we might actually get a bit of a fight for wins, and with a bit of luck (or rather lack of luck for Red Bull) we can even get a hope of not having the championship sealed by summer.

      2. Or it took as long as 5 races into the season to developed and build….

    4. MBF1 targetting RBRF1.

      They have to be realistic. 1 Race is still just 1 race.
      MV finished 24 seconds ahead of LH.
      SP does not serve as a reference, as he made it difficult for himself so far.

      Lets face it, maybe after the summerstop MB may be having a car that can come closer to RBR, but I dont expect any battles. And by then; RBR will have a very comfortable WCC points, as for Max being ever closer to that 3rd title.

      IMHO I dont see any other team stepping up to the plate and bring the battle to RBR, every circuit is different, every weather situation is different and every different situation suits certain car designs better: but overall, id say that RBR is pretty solid like its on rails in the hands of MV.

      3rd World Title of MV incoming!

    5. Yellow Baron
      5th June 2023, 19:13

      If the first 6 drivers after the two redbulls work together they can take max out every first corner for the next few races then after the summer break when redbulls penalty starts to take effect we’ll have a title battle on our hands :P

    6. As long as Max is cruising around, making pitstops at will, it is impossible to compare Mercedes to RB. Best way is to look at at what distance they have compared to nr 4 and 5 in Barcelona.

      1. Yeah Mercedes needs to get close enough to force Versappen into making mistakes. We know he has a short fuse and will make rash calls when pushed.

    Comments are closed.