Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2023

Mercedes finding ‘massive improvements’ in how we operate – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are making massive improvements to how they operate as a team as they strive to get on terms with their dominant rivals Red Bull.

The seven times world champion has not won a race since 2021. However he says he is pushing himself as far as he can to help the team turn their form around.

“You’re always digging as far as you can without depleting yourself, naturally, and I think everyone in the team is giving absolutely everything too,” said Hamilton in response to a question from RaceFans. “That’s time away from their families, there’s times where these guys are working seven days a week. These guys are flat out so I’m trying to make sure that I’m matching their excellence.”

“But also I’m just being mindful of – I think in the past it was more about the destination rather than the journey. And I’m trying to enjoy the journey as we go, the struggles that we’re having, the ups and downs that we have, and just the day-to-day parts of life and being a racing driver.

“Each weekend you’re still trying to take risks and trying to get that car to do something that it doesn’t want to and that’s something I enjoy doing. If and when the car is willing to go further, I’m willing to go further. I’m willing to go as far as it needs in order for us to win.”

Mercedes have only won a single race since the start of last season. Prior to that they won eight consecutive constructors championship titles. However Hamilton pointed out this isn’t the first time in his career he hasn’t had a car capable of challenging for the championship.

“People forget that and just seem to remember the seven years or eight years that we were competitive,” he said. They forget the years before that where I had pretty interesting cars at McLaren.

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“So I’ve had years like last year and this year. Of course, when you’re faced with adversity, when you’re faced with a challenge like we have, collectively as a team, you learn more than you do than when it’s smooth sailing at the front.”

Hamilton, who was recently committed to spend another two years driving for Mercedes, said he and the team are constantly finding ways to improve how they can perform. He described the discussions he has with race engineer Peter Bonnington and trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin.

“Year on year you just learn to be more efficient with your time and with your energy. At the end of the year we’ll – Bono and I, and Shov – we’ll go through a list of things that worked and which didn’t work and just be honest. Like: ‘we keep doing this, this does not benefit my weekend at all’. Take that off and it gives you more time to focus on other areas or you add more things in which can benefit the team as a whole.

“I think the communication has improved massively in this past year and I think it’s been a really interesting process for people to be able to sit down and say ‘you know what, we made the wrong decisions, can you work with us to help rectify it and move forwards?’ And that’s what we’ve done this past two years.

“I think it has been a growing experience within the infrastructure. I have to probably try to commit even more time just through sheer will and wanting to get there. I think everyone has. But I don’t mind this because we don’t like to lose and we love the job that we do. So I’m enjoying it.”

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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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31 comments on “Mercedes finding ‘massive improvements’ in how we operate – Hamilton”

  1. Give Hamilton a car almost equal to the Red Bull and he’ll win more championships. Does anyone believe that Max would be winning races in a Mercedes or a Ferrari against even Perez in a Red Bull?

    1. I don’t know who said that, perhaps it’s better to find them to argue against that.

      I do know Max won one or more races every season since 2016, even when Mercedes and even Ferrari were ahead of Red Bull, so he’s got that going for him.

    2. Facts are in 2020 Max beat Hamilton and Mercedes in a car, which was literally 1s/lap slower. I don’t even have to mention 8 wins between 2016-2019, which is again amazing considering the difference in pace between their respective cars. Now in 2022 and 2023 Hamilton can’t beat Max and win a single, SINGLE RACE in a car which is only 0.2-0.5s/lap slower.

      It’s incredible some people can’t or don’t want to acknowledge that Max Verstappen is the best driver in history. Schumacher at his very best result-wise in 2002 crashed into Montoya in Malaysia, collided with him in the very next race at Interlagos, was outqualified by 0.7s by Rubens in Austria, spun and lost victory at Nurburgring and earned himself a drive-through penalty by crossing the white line in France. Meanwhile Max is as flawless as driver can be. Starts from the back – finishes only few seconds behind his team mate. Starts in the midpack – wins. Red flags, wet races, Safety Cars – wins. But still that’s not enough, because Hamilton or Leclerc are seemingly on equal level? When, how exactly?

      1. Ricciardo won 4 races between 2016 and 2018, so he’s the 2nd best driver ever then?

        Your mistake is to just swap teams and drivers, as if the quality of the cars is the same every year.

        Max having won races back then doesn’t mean at all that you could put him on a Ferrari or Mercedes now and he’d start winning. Red Bull was the strongest team in Mexico even before the 2021 regulation change. They even locked the front row in 2018. But according to out friend here, it was all Max.

        Some people really think Formula One is like their Dragon Ball Z cartoons. Incredible.

        1. Ricciardo’s wins:
          -Malaysia 2016 he beat Max by 2 seconds, Ricciardo in his 11 seasons of racing, 6th in F1 vs Max’s only 3rd season and 2nd in F1
          -Baku 2017 when Max running in front retired due to oil pressure problems
          -China 2018 when Max running in front of DR made 2 stupid mistakes
          -Monaco 2018 when Max crashed in FP3 and was unable to participate in qualifying

          Don’t you think there’s a significant difference between a driver literally learning the racing ropes while driving for Top 3 team in Formula 1 and experienced team mate, who’s done it in Formula 2.0 and F3 10 years earlier? Funnily enough, when Max wasn’t taking some hard and painful lessons, despite being so inexperienced he was still beating Ricciardo in 90-95% of grand prix weekends when conditions were equal.

          I watched them all in junior formulas between 2009 or so and 2020. I saw how they performed at the most equal footing there can be in motorsport. Nobody impressed me more than Max in 2014 before or ever since. I can guarantee Max would be winning races in 2022/23 Mercedes and 23 Ferrari, just like Schumacher in 1996 or Alonso in 2012 were doing, but Max is even better. It’s such a shame he’s bound to racing in this modern awful era, because he would’ve been the stuff of legends if you put him in 1995-2009 style of F1 car.

          1. You can’t guarantee it man, it’s not happening.
            Just like saying he would for certain do this or that in different eras, we don’t know that.
            You can say you think he would, and if you say that, i would be ok with it because it’s your opinion.

          2. You made good points, and I definitely agree with the last paragraph, verstappen is also a strong wet weather driver, so it’d have been nice to see him mix it with senna, schumacher and other top drivers of the past back when they would actually race with more than 2 drops of rain, at least he was there at the last real wet race, brazil 2016.

      2. You really seem to be having a bad time following or enjoying the sport. I really don’t know why you bother watching F1, let alone engaging with it through social media, which is clearly just exacerbating the problem…

    3. Absolutely yes

    4. A thing about the possibility of winning races this year outside a red bull car is that if you swapped verstappen with hamilton, for example, or leclerc (to show I’m not picking on one driver), they wouldn’t be as flawless in the red bull, they would throw away a race here or there and then a hypothetical verstappen in a ferrari or merc would become one of the strongest candidates to pick up the win.

  2. Which logically can only mean they’ve been massively underpeforming all these years. It’s no surprise Hamilton and Mercedes can only dream about winning now, while Max in exactly the same position as them now, was winning multiple races per year.

    1. Coventry Climax
      14th September 2023, 18:41

      That’s not necessarily true, although ‘massive improvements’ does imply there was room for them.
      It has to be said though, that that is also probably true for most teams. I’m sure there’s things even at Red Bull that could be done -even- better.

      But it does remind me a bit of this:
      Whenever I find the packaging of one of my favourite products has changed to say ‘New and improved recipe, Now even better than before’, I invariably find the product worse if not downright disgusting, and won’t buy it again after that. Which means that the ‘improvement’ logo is just a sorry excuse for having found a cheaper way to produce something that they claim comes close to the original.
      And if it really is better, you have fooled me all the time as well as charged me too much untill then.

      Sorry about the mouthful.

      Anyway, let’s await the results first.

      1. I’d say Canada 2014, Monaco 2015, Baku 2016, Germany 2019, Monza 2020, Russia 2020, Hungary 2021, Turkey 2021, Saudi 2022, Imola 2022, Zandvoort 2022, Zandvoort 2023 and probably more I forgot about prove that there was and still is a massive problem for them.

        Max was having a pretty mediocre 2021 Russian GP, running in P7 or so. Then when the weather came in, both Max and his team decided to switch to inters early, which earned them P2. In exactly the same situation, Hamilton and Mercedes chose to stay out on slicks at Zandvoort. Instead of moving up from P15 or whatever it was to podium and possibly fighting for the win, they finished P6. Imola 2022, similar story. Nothing to lose and yet still Hamilton decided to stay out for too long on inters. That’s a nice P13 and being lapped by Max then!

        How can you beat Max and Red Bull if they stay on top of things all the time and you don’t even dare to challenge them, to do something risky? And even when they cracked like in Singapore last year, Hamilton firstly didn’t do the job in quali and then made silly mistakes during the race, even finishing behind Max. If you can’t beat them at their absolutely worst, good luck beating them at their best which is 95% of the time.

        1. Yes, this is also true, mercedes are too often conservative, when they’re not racing for the championship but just for the odd win here and there, like red bull before 2021, they need to take risks and be aggressive with strategies.

  3. That’s perhaps the way they found not to feel completely demoralized. Pretend they’re making progress just for it to bite them in the ass right at the next race. It’s been like this since Spain last year.

    I don’t expect anything from them other than to be competitive with the other teams behind Red Bull. Different from Ferrari which started strong, they never got it right with these regulations.

  4. massively underpeforming all these years

    @clearlyknowsnothingaboutformula1 Logic, sure! Totally nailed it there.

  5. Coventry Climax
    14th September 2023, 18:22

    If there’s no wins, no destinies to enjoy, it’s logical you try to enjoy the journey. This is probably true for each and every driver on track.

    Also, I should hope all drivers are willing – and trying – to take their car as far as it will go, as that’s what they’re hired for that’s their job.

    .. for people to be able to sit down and say ‘you know what, we made the wrong decisions, can you work with us to help rectify it and move forwards?’

    How magnanimous.

    Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are making massive improvements to how they operate as a team as they strive to get on terms with their dominant rivals Red Bull.

    The Red Bull reference here is likely Racefan’s; I don’t read this further on. But I hope there will be other teams involved as well, in going after red Bull. If they are Hamiltons words, he ‘forgets’ about Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren, for instance, and I’d welcome more of them. For now, it looks like Mercedes will have to compete those too, which is how it should be, and let’s see what this ‘massive improvement’ brings them and where they end up in the mix.

    1. .. for people to be able to sit down and say ‘you know what, we made the wrong decisions, can you work with us to help rectify it and move forwards?

      How magnanimous.

      If you recall, he was pointing out to the team last year that the car was radically wrong, and it took until part way into this year before the team decided that a change was needed. The thing being that LH wasn’t alone in saying it was wrong – but the haters seem to choose to forget that and concentrate on LH.
      As someone round here said, “there’s some nuance about him” they don’t like…
      I tend to agree.

      1. Coventry Climax
        15th September 2023, 10:18

        I do recall.
        I think I also commented back then that Hamilton must be a very sought after engineer, with a guaranteed job once he decides to stop racing.
        If he thought the design was wrong right from the start, he did not manage to convince his team of it early enough.
        If he found out too late, they initially convinced him, he agreed to the initial design, and that makes whining about it later rather silly.
        Either way, this sounds like Hamilton feels is not to blame for any of it, which is firstly simply not the case and secondly just not a chique way to communicate about things.
        You win together and you lose together. Within a good team everybody feels he’s part of it, noone behaves likes he’s above it.
        But it seems to be part of the Wolff culture there. Get angry, bang your fist, lash out to others. Russell changed from a nice bloke into something of a snitch quite rapidly there too.
        Ugly team.

  6. My friends have been given explicit instructions. If I pull up to one of their houses in a minivan, kill me. If I’m wearing a pair of ridiculous looking white sunglasses, kill me slowly.

    1. My friends have been given explicit instructions…

      So, a very short list of suspects for the police to question then. :)

      1. Coventry Climax
        15th September 2023, 10:27

        Hasty conclusion: You don’t know the size of the list of friends.
        Some people on social media claim they have thousands of ‘friends’. And as many enemies, jumping to any opportunity probably.

  7. Lewis doesn’t know what it is to drive a midfield or back marker car – he has never driven a car that didn’t finish top 3 in constructor championship. He has never driven a car that didn’t win at least 1 race in a season – 2023 might be his first ever year.

    Lewis over his career had on average the most competitive cars of any driver in the history of F1.
    Looking at the last 40 years there isn’t even another driver close.
    Cars in Lewis career won 46% of the races (was 48% at end of 2022).
    Cars in MSC career won 35% of the races, same applies for Prost and Senna.
    Cars in Max career won 32% of the races (was 26% at end of 2022).

    1. I was suspicious, checked and noticed the mercedes 2013 ended up 5th in the constructor’s championship, so what you said isn’t true in all cases, I actually was doubting about some of the last mclaren years with hamilton, but they never got worse than 3rd.

      There’s no doubt he had a very competitive car on average, compared to almost every other driver, he never really had a true bad car like alonso.

      If you go back to the early years, you will probably find fangio, who swapped constantly to the best team, and clark, who stayed with lotus all the time, might have good % in that stat too.

      The worst car hamilton had was probably the 2009 mclaren early season, but it improved a lot in the 2nd half, and in terms of winning a race a year the 2022 car was really bad actually, apart from brazil I don’t really see them ever having had a real chance to do so, except maybe that race where tsunoda stopped on track (zandvoort? Not sure), triggering a VSC that was beneficial to verstappen’s strategy.

      This year it’s ofc even harder, but it’s next to impossible for everyone, it’s a never seen before situation, where the clear quickest team could actually make a clean sweep, so it’s not merc being particularly bad this year, it’s red bull too strong for anyone to win, recent close calls would be mclaren’s 1988 and mercedes’ 2016, where they lost 1 (reliability + mistake) and 2 races respectively (crash and reliability + contact at start) which they all should’ve won on pace.

      1. Sorry please double check again as to my knowledge Mclaren Mercedes (Jenson & Sergio) was 5th in the Constructor Championship in 2013, however Lewis in 2013 drove for Mercedes (together with Nico) which finished 2nd.

      2. They had a chance to win at Mexico and Zandvoort I felt with a better strategy. Brazil was a dominant weekend and no one was close to their pace.

        That said all that the last three years have highlighted especially regarding Mercedes is that they need better operations and race management as a whole, in addition to drivers being more consistent.

        And Mercedes finished 2nd in WCC in 2013. Statistically speaking no one has had the privilege of cars Lewis has had. Potentially capable of winning 10+ WDCs is just nuts. That said if his team fails to deliver a good car his statistics will also regress to maybe those of other successful drivers.

    2. Lewis doesn’t know what it is to drive a midfield or back marker car – he has never driven a car that didn’t finish top 3 in constructor championship.

      That’s true for Max. However, his tendency to argue with barriers reduced the points collected.

      @esploratore1 – The drop in points collection for the 2013 McLaren seems to have accompanied the arrival of a driver by the name of Perez.
      At the new team for Hamilton, he outscored the established driver, Rosberg by 10% (Rosberg had outscored his previous team-mate by 89% – some no-hoper called Schumacher)
      Almost like Hamilton was the one collecting the points at McL and getting himself settled in Merc. but still better than the incumbent.

  8. I don’t go with those WDC stats and title’s like GOAT. I just see that there a periods where drivers are dominant. Due to their cars, due to their skills and sometimes due to lack of competition or any combination. At this moment Verstappen is dominant. Very dominant.

    1. My keyboard beats me..

      1. My keyboard beats me..

        Yeah, mine too at times.
        I’m fine, but my fingers seem illiterate :)

  9. Good development. They need to get more competitive.

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