Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes developments and recovering lost ground: “It’s just a long process”

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With Mercedes debuting their redesigned sidepods in Monaco as part of the upgrade package originally planned for the cancelled Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton discusses the team’s developments as they fight to regain lost ground and get back to the front of the field.

Lewis Hamilton in the W14 on the streets of monaco
Photo: @MercedesAMFf1 on twitter

“We haven’t covered that…”

With the introduction of a noticeably different sidepod design, more in line with that of Red Bull and vastly different than the “zeropod” design which Mercedes have struggled to make work since last season, all eyes were on the Mercedes team in Monaco. Their upgrades did not seem to bridge the gap to the teams ahead in a meaningful way however.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton admits that the upgrades did not quite live up to expectations. Despite this, Hamilton claims the upgrades were nonetheless a step in the right direction as he felt more confident in the W14.

“It’s not the step forward we were hoping for,” Hamilton admitted. “The true step forward we were hoping for is around a second delta in race trim. We haven’t covered that with this step, but it is a step in the right direction.

“What I felt last weekend [in Monaco] was I felt a little bit more confident in the car, more ability to be able to commit through the corners. So I’m hoping that at this track it’s the same, but hopefully better because there’s a lot of medium and high speed corners. So I’m hoping the flow of the car is better and maybe in following, we can follow closer.”

Expanding on the suspension upgrades which the team introduced Hamilton claims they have given him “a lot more confidence” in the car and the Briton is hopeful that this confidence will translate to pace this weekend.

“It’s just a long process…”

With the widely publicised news that Hamilton was unhappy that the team had chosen to continue pursuing their “zeropod” designed philosophy into the 2023 season, the 7-time champion was asked whether he has more input in the direction the team are going with their recent upgrades.

While he remained somewhat evasive in his answer, Hamilton did reiterate that it was not his decision to continue pursuing the 2022 concept after noting that the new design more closely resembles that of championship leaders Red Bull.

“I mean it’s the input that we’ve been having as a team, George and I, over the past year,” he said. “It’s those constant conversations where you’re like ‘why does that look like that and we look like this? Have we tried that?’

“We now have the wider sidepods more in the direction of Red Bull. It’s not been my decision to go that way. I think it’s been clear that when we dropped the car back on the ground in the first test, it’s basically the sister to last year’s car except for the bouncing. Still with some of the very similar characteristics in how it drives but without the bouncing.

“I think we’ve taken count. We’ve taken note of where we are and where we’ve gone wrong. Now we’re just slowly chipping away trying to navigate our way back to the front. It’s just a long process unfortunately.”

“We’ll find out tomorrow how good those upgrades are.”

Hamilton also discussed the potential of rivals Ferrari and Aston Martin this weekend. While he admits he is unsure what to expect from the two team whom he believes are introducing upgrades, he is hopeful the he will be able to compete with both teams.

“I really don’t know what to expect,” he admitted. “I know those two have upgrades here this weekend. So we’ll find out tomorrow how good those upgrades are. Just from looking at the numbers of what this upgrade is, before they have their upgrades maybe it could put us quite close to them, but we’ll see if they take a big step or a small step forwards this weekend.

“I’m still hopeful that we can compete with them this weekend, but it’s a big hope.”