Mercedes must halve deficit to Red Bull before 2024 season starts – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton is concerned Mercedes are still so far behind Red Bull in the second year of Formula 1’s current technical regulations.

The seven-times world champion said his team must focus on closing the gap to their rivals after he qualified over a second off Max Verstappen’s pace at Suzuka last weekend.

Red Bull have won all bar one of the 16 races so far this year. They clinched the constructors title in Japan and Verstappen is likely to claim the drivers’ championship for the third year in a row in the Sprint race ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix next week.

Hamilton said in Suzuka that Mercedes need to “realise that a second gap is huge and it’s real.”

“To be two years in and still be a second down compared to the Red Bulls, it’s showing that we need to make sure that we really do a good job over the winter to get back at least half that gap before next year,” he added.

Red Bull’s return to winning ways in Japan was predicted by Mercedes after their poor performance in Singapore. Mercedes famously also struggled at the street circuit during that otherwise dominant 2015 campaign.

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said he wasn’t alarmed by the scale of Red Bull’s superiority at Suzuka due to the nature of its layout.

“I’m not surprised that they bounced back. We did that ourselves in Singapore. I’m sure theirs is for different reasons.

“It’s a big gap but this circuit’s one of those that, when the drivers are happy with the balance and when the car hooks up sector one, you can do some pretty stunning lap times. So yes, it’s a big gap but we’ll look at these things over a few tracks to try and understand the trends in terms of where everyone’s going on performance.”

Following Singapore “our internal messaging was ‘expect them to be back out front when we get back to Suzuka’,” Shovlin added. “So that’s certainly not come as any surprise to the team. Apart from Singapore, they’ve got a car that works everywhere.”

The progress McLaren have made with their car in recent races, demonstrated by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri appearing in the top three at Suzuka, had also caught Shovlin’s eye.

“That McLaren update, if it’s more of what they did back in Austria-Silverstone time, that may not have been that spectacular in Singapore, you’re actually seeing what it can do [at Suzuka]. I think that’s probably the bigger thing, in terms of where they are in car performance.”

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2023 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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67 comments on “Mercedes must halve deficit to Red Bull before 2024 season starts – Hamilton”

  1. I heard Lewis is visiting Brackley. I’m sure his input will help them gain 2s over the winter.

    1. Don’t forget weekly Zoom calls, that’s another 1s gained #blessed

      1. Lewie! Drive faster …

      2. considering the engineers don’t know what they are doing, hes probably a good source for understanding the defecits in performance because he understands pretty much all the use/edge cases for the car, how it does handle and how it needs to handle, which when you are actually devising a ‘system’ you do have to be able to qualify and declare the TO-BE system.

        The problem with Mercedes, was a lot of their performance was gifted courtesy of the new formula change, and their engineers didn’t REALLY have to compete with RBR, and so politics set in more and more, and they really didn’t have to adjust, and the ground-effect/venturi car caught them out, right when they decided to fk up their car with some ludicrous no side pod car, because they think they are racing some wooden derby car that needs to be thin, instead of seeing the car as it is, a ‘wing’ in of itself. That said, the W11, was pretty good, but why they opted to make a car so radically different, during a major rule shift, is beyond retarded from an engineering stand point.

    2. Yeah – rallying cries for more performance would be easier to swallow if he was in the factory every day, working hard.

      We all know he’ll be in Miami or somewhere, on a beach, talking about vibes on Instagram.

      1. There was a driver that would be in the shop with the mechanics/engineers till the middle of the night every night until they were winning. Schu-something-or-other.

        1. Coventry Climax
          30th September 2023, 0:53

          Oh there were and are plenty others too.

    3. Do you mean clown in a good or like Marko the clown? Or the FIA clowns?

      Anyways! You dont have to be here?? You can allways go give some love to your favorite driver in the whole world.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th September 2023, 0:57

        Fritz, isn’t it about time you asked your doctors to change your medication? Add in some beta-blockers, for example, to get your stress levels down a bit? And some LSD, to broaden your mind?

        1. Yes i will do exactly as you say Climax! I am really into taking advice in a online forum. Particulary F1 forums are a goldmine for wich drugs i need to ingest.

          Especially if said advice is coming from someone i find so wellmeaning like you Climax.

        2. Beta blockers may lower blood pressure, but they do nothing for the stress causing it. In actuality, some of them can actually make the patient more agitated, and increase their stress levels.

          I think you’ve broadened your mind so much it leaked out your ears.

  2. If Merc fend off Ferrari for 2nd, I think they’re in the worst position possible to cut the deficit to RB. 2nd in standing will mean the least aero time of all teams bar RB. The most prize money but money isn’t really an issue to Merc, they’ll hit the cap regardless. Plus, they might finish the year with the 4th best car after Ferrari, McL and RB (we’ll see what the remaining tracks do for them)

    1. merc should forgo 2nd so that they have more wind tunnel time and they need it since the W15 will be a new concept. Lets see if they will let 2nd slip away

      1. The fact that we’re seriously discussing the possibility for teams to give up positions in the WCC is staggering and depressing. F1 doesn’t look like a sport.
        Alonso is the only guy who keeps me watching this freak show.

    2. I think Mercedes is more in for the honour to be second that counts also for them. But third would be beter for development as they have money enough.

    3. @frankjaeger

      2nd in standing will mean the least aero time of all teams bar RB.

      The wind tunnel, simulation…allocation is reset each June 30th. Mercedes are guaranteed to have less wind tunnel allocation than Ferrari who were 4th in the WCC standing June 30th.

  3. Here’s a tip for Hamilton, Wolff, Mercedes and PR agency they’re using: focus all your efforts solely on improving yourself, rather than attacking Max and Red Bull every week, on every occasion. No matter what rule you target, it won’t change the fact your pit stops are 1 second slower than Red Bull’s, because it’s a question of pure skills and talent, which you don’t have in your team.

    1. Nothing was attacking RB in this article. Btw have you told RedBull to stop whining and accusing, when they were threating with quitting and constantly accused Merc with cheating when they were not winning? asking for a friend :)

      1. I guess you missed 2014 – 2021 when Christian Hoener and Dr Doomsday Markos were at it week in week out, getting everything banned, even threatened to pull out of F1 when Mercedes and Ferrari both said that they wont give RB their USED engine (last years engine) after their relationship with Renault went sour.

      2. I was talking generally, not specifically about this article. In the last few months Hamilton and Wolff with the help of PR agency are constantly attacking Max and Red Bull:

        -“I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing on next year’s car.”
        -“In my personal opinion, Valtteri and all of my team mates have been stronger than the team mates that Max has had.”
        -“I would think that if they’re not 30 seconds ahead, like they have done in the past, then something’s up,”

        And that’s only a few examples, there’s so much more. It’s never ending barrage of attacks aimed at Red Bull, of course done in a very clever manner.

        As for complaints made by Red Bull about gigantic Mercedes domination, I don’t know, ask yourself if they had a case there:

        “They knew a bit more about the (proposed) power unit because the Mercedes people were in close contact with the FIA in defining the concept of this engine. It is why they had such a strong start last year and they are keeping that advantage now,” the 84-year-old Briton added.”

        1. Renault knew more about the newly proposed V6 turbo engine because they pushed for it, It was Redbull who prevented Renault developing the engine earlier on due to their year in year out battle with Ferrari. They all got the engine format in 2011.

        2. All teams were in ‘close contact’ with the FIA. There is nothing secret about the discussions that led to the V6 Turbo being the choice for 2014, nor about the many alternatives that were proposed and rejected. Every manufacturer, and some potential new ones, were consulted in this process.

    2. Here’s a tip for Hamilton, Wolff, Mercedes and PR agency they’re using: focus all your efforts solely on improving yourself, rather than attacking Max and Red Bull every week, on every occasion.

      You seem to be a new to F1 because that’s exactly what RBR were doing during the hybrid era pre-2022 and I don’t recall hearing you triggered by their vulgar and offensive behavior. I’m a longtime Wolff and Mercedes detractor by the way !

    1. Coventry Climax
      30th September 2023, 1:04

      🤣 Brilliant!

  4. Well it’s a good thing his team don’t make mistakes then.

  5. That’s quite a task given Red Bull only seem to be getting faster (forgetting Singapore).

    1. The cost cap penatly hit them so hard though

      1. Yes but their car is already the fastest so they don’t need a lot of development to catch up instead they are focus on getting faster on the easy parts.

        1. Yes but their car is already the fastest so they don’t need a lot of development to catch up instead they are focus on getting faster on the easy parts.

          Your reply to Yellow Baron suggests that your understanding of the word “irony” is that it has something to do with removing creases from clothes.

          1. Yes, at this point it’s fair to say that penalty was too lenient, I was unsure when it was given and was afraid it could potentially gift the 2023 title to merc, but it’s pretty clear now it wasn’t enough.

  6. I’m skeptical at how much Merc can really take over from this car. It’s like putting a Lamborghini bodyfit on a Mazda, should’ve changed the fundamentals/cocnept last year & used this year as learning ground. If anything they could do backwards next year.

    1. Coventry Climax
      30th September 2023, 1:10

      Hey, no bad words about Mazda! ;-)
      They’ve come up with the variable compression engine, some years back. Quite an engineering feat actually.
      Ofcourse, the FiA would forbid it in F1.

  7. He knows he needs an advantage over RBR, not a halved deficit.

  8. Off course they will… They all will, since RB have probably diverted all of its focus to 2024 a long time ago.

  9. But. If they keep on halving the deficit, they’ll never catch them.

    1. True, or “never”, if you have 1 sec gap and halve it 4 times, when you are at 0.125 you can fight for it.

    2. Ops, 3 times actually, a 4th time would make an irrelevant improvement (62,5 thousandths).

    3. Coventry Climax
      30th September 2023, 1:13

      Oh, that’s just science or math, don’t know which, but only an opinion anyway. ;-)

  10. Oh no Lewis isn’t winning any races anymore because his car isn’t a second a lap quicker than the rest.
    Why is Lewis not making more of a difference – haven’t seem him dragging the car to places it doesn’t belong – yes he is beating Russell in the races but qualifying is still 8-8.

    It really would be good if next year Mercedes drop down the order and stay behind McLaren and Ferrari – can’t wait for Lewis “life is unfair” comments.

    He never had to a drive a car that didn’t finish in the top 3 in constructor championship – it is a fact that Lewis is the luckiest F1 driver ever when it comes to having competitive cars throughout his career yet he sounds he is going through a worse period than Alonso did after 2012.

    1. Hamilton is best of the rest this season, as you expect good drivers to be when they can’t win, but you had to look at a meaningless qualifying tie with his much younger teammate to talk him down. lol.


      1. +1
        Its like that saying! What was it again? Oyeah! “Still i rise” cant recall who said that but its a good saying.

        1. If you’re talking lap times, I agree. They are rising.

          1. Hamilton is in third place while not driving a Mclaren, Aston or a Ferrari. Your comment makes no sense or point.

            Last year Hamilton was the highest pointscorer after the nr 1 RB17 in the second half.

        2. So do overinflated balloons.

    2. haven’t seem him dragging the car to places it doesn’t belong

      That hardly ever happens thanks to DRS and constant neutralizations in chaotic conditions. If nobody else is doing that either, it’s not really a Hamilton issue.

      He’s actually been one of the better performers all season, although he arguably squandered his chance to win in Singapore with a bad qualifying.

      1. Perez does :)

    3. This is an old take, hamilton DID drive a car that didn’t finish 3rd in the constructor’s championship, the mercedes 2013.

      1. Sorry, it’s not that one, must be a mclaren, can’t check atm.

        1. Nothing, I’m guessing I got confused the other time, looks like he indeed never had a car that didn’t make 3rd in the constructor’s, and I’m ofc not disputing he had a great car on average compared to many drivers.

    4. He surely is the most lucky driver F1 has ever seen, without a doubt. Not to say he doesn’t have skills, but the amount of luck is unprecedented and contributed significantly to the number of championships he achieved. Definitely not all of them, a number of them comes from skill. But just imagine if Alonso would have gotten that Mercedes seat back then. His number of WDC would most likely be somewhere between 8 or 10 at this point in time (2 he already had plus 6 – 8 in that Mercedes). It’s just not realistic to not factor luck in. Surely Lewis is a gifted driver but I can not yet consider him amongst the greats, that would be a testimony of little understanding of how F1 works.

  11. What a surprise, another article about Hamilton and Mercedes filled with mindless drivel.

      1. Please never reply to me, you’re a clown

        1. Do you mean clown in a good or like Marko the clown? Or the FIA clowns?

          Anyways! You dont have to be here?? You can allways go give some love to your favorite driver in the whole world.

  12. @Nobody cares

    Good for that you respect Ham! Cumbaya lord!

    Your response is actually a response. Not really equating curbing engine advantage with blatant cheating.

    Its well documented that Redbull since the inception of the concord agreement get 150 million just for showing up on the grid?

    Color me not so unimpressed when the FIA have to directly tip the scales to change the outcome.

    And dont forget the “The aero genius Newey”

    What does Lewis complaining accomplish? Am i now supposed to say why is Max not complaining?

    I mean its not like i am in Ver/Alo threads being an ass?

    How about just fair racing, good and consistent applying of rules and funds. That would be nice imho. Also cutting racial bullshit element that would be nice to. Or is that over the top?

    1. Nobody cares about me
      29th September 2023, 16:16

      Racing is never fair if you don’t have equal designed cars and equal designed engines.
      Thats’s why I have the utmost respect for engineers like Newey getting it right repeatedly.
      Do not get me wrong, I would like to see Lewis, Fernando, Charles, Lando and Max racing each other in fully synchronized equipment and engines.
      I have an idea who would be the victor, but I like to keep that to myself before I offend anyone, haha

      Unfortunately for some, that is not what F1 is all about, the best designers and engineers do make the difference. But only, If you have a driver who can deliver on the advantages.
      You may dislike it when your hero is no longer going for wins, but you cannot blame and offend Max or his fans for it.
      Max is doing a respectable job, whether you dislike him or not.
      Put the blame on the engineers of Mercedes instead.

      Why you play the racist card on me, is disgusting.
      In my comments and life, I never have abused and will never abuse someone of colour, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. It is simply not my DNA.
      By the way, my partner does not complain about my skills in the kitchen, garden or master bedroom, haha

  13. If they don’t waste their time with ill-fated concepts and actually be sure what they’re doing is the correct path from what they did wrong before, maybe they can cut some of the gap just by fixing their mistakes. Red Bull is already refining their winning concept, so unless they find something magic, we can suppose their gains will be smaller.

    What Mercedes will be doing now is what they should’ve done a year ago but they didn’t. They wasted a whole year giving the zero side pod concept and its designer, a shot at the redemption that never came.

  14. He’s actually not wrong.

    If they’ve not worked out how to make their current car faster, they are way too far behind to catch up to RBR next season given the likelihood that RBR will make a step forward, as do most teams each new season.

    A step forward when behind by to much just maintains the status quo – they seriously need to find more improvements to have a decent base for next year and at the moment it seems like they’re unable to do so.

  15. I am happy your wife appreciates you:) And hope you are extra lucky tonight!

    You are of naturally entitled to your opinions about Lewis and Formula 1 in generall.

    I dont get the skills, cooking, racism sexuall orientation thing?

    Life is not fare
    Its naturall for ahtletes to fade
    My favorits have lost many times before. Its not a problem.

    I am rarely on other drivers threads, usually its easier meaningfull exchange because those fans are more loving.

    1. Coventry Climax
      30th September 2023, 1:20

      And talk your language?

      1. Its allways a positive being more positive on favorites than negatives on team/drivers you dont like, dont you think?

  16. Mercedes has some type of dysfunction going on as whomever was responsible for the initial design is still clinging to their “baby” even though it has been proved over 2 seasons that it is not good enough. There will be no change in the Mercedes cars until this person or persons are removed from the organization.

    1. There will be no change in the Mercedes cars until this person or persons are removed from the organization.

      It has already been done. Mike Elliott was “promoted” to chief technical officer and James Allison returned to oversee the design of Mercedes F1 cars. Promoting Elliott is a very smart move by Wolff to prevent teams like Ferrari who are desperate for senior figures from signing him, at the same time he removed him from the design office.

      1. I’am still wary, i would settle for a non stinker.
        The W14 has problems with direction changes, high drag, inefficient DRS, not good on highspeed or medium corners and a bad qualifier. The worst driving position of the entire grid. That leaves low speedcorners and tyremanagement.

        I dont understand the process in wich James Allison qualified for the job?

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