Lewis Hamilton Says Mercedes Did Not Listen to His Advice
After another relatively slow start to the season last weekend, Lewis Hamilton says his team did not listen to his concerns about the car.
It is no secret Mercedes is unhappy with its Formula 1 performance since the introduction of new ground effects-based aerodynamic rules at the beginning of the 2023 season. Its zero sidepod concept is completely unique on the grid, and the resulting W13 it entered last season started the year uniquely hurt by porpoising as a result. The car eventually came together to win a race in Interlagos in the hands of George Russell, but the team has seemingly taken another major step back over this most recent offseason after returning with another zero sidepod concept for 2023.
Hamilton, the winningest driver in Formula 1 history and a six-time champion with Mercedes alone, told BBC Radio 5 that he gave the team some fairly direct advice about its concept that went ignored.
"Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car," Hamilton claimed. "I've driven so many cars in my life. I know what a car needs. I know what a car doesn't need. I think it's really about accountability... It's about owning up and saying, 'Yeah, you know what? We didn't listen to you. It's not where it needs to be and we've got to work."
Although Hamilton notes the current car is significantly more resistant to porpoising effects, he adds that its mid-corner balance was a major concern. The end result is that the team was a second off Red Bull's pace in the season's opening race, a significant step back from where they were by the end of 2022 and well behind the program's expectations entering any season.
Between Hamilton's concerns and Mercedes teammate George Russell's claim that Red Bull's pace at Bahrain suggests they "should win every race" this season, the team is clearly at a crossroads. Formula 1 gets a month off after next weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix; that provides some runway, but Mercedes may need to make radical changes very soon if it hopes to compete for race wins this season.
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