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Hamilton Predicted Slow Start for Mercedes in 2023 F1 Season



Hamilton Predicted Slow Start for Mercedes in 2023 F1 Season

Lewis Hamilton has stated that he was aware right from the outset, during his initial laps in the Mercedes W14, that the team’s 2023 Formula 1 car would not be fast enough at the beginning of the season.

Mercedes has been displaying a cautious and negative attitude regarding its prospects of making a comeback to the leading position in the current season, from the car’s unveiling event to the pre-season trials.

It remains uncertain whether Mercedes has intentionally lowered expectations or is genuinely struggling, and only the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend will provide a conclusive answer. However, based on testing evaluations, Mercedes is probably no higher than third place in terms of speed, and could face a challenge from Aston Martin for that position.

Hamilton concurs with this analysis, having formed the opinion that the W14 was insufficient from the moment he drove it. He does acknowledge, however, that the previous year’s issues with bouncing and porpoising were fixed, which should make resolving any remaining problems easier.

Hamilton Predicted Slow Start for Mercedes in 2023 F1 Season

Hamilton commented that he recognized the challenge Mercedes would face from the very first moment he drove the car. Nonetheless, he does see a positive aspect, which is the absence of bouncing this year.

According to him, the previous year’s bouncing made it challenging to pinpoint and solve the underlying issues, so the removal of this obstacle is a significant benefit.

Without the bouncing issue, the team can now concentrate solely on improving their performance. Hamilton is optimistic and impressed by the team’s determination and concentration on getting back to the top.


Hamilton acknowledges that the team’s current position is not ideal at the start of the season. Nevertheless, he has faith in the team’s ability and experience, as they have won multiple championships and consist of a skilled group of individuals.

Hamilton Predicted Slow Start for Mercedes in 2023 F1 Season

When journalists informed Hamilton that his teammate George Russell seemed to be more optimistic about Mercedes’ prospects now than he was during testing last week, Hamilton responded by saying that he would not use the term “bullish” to describe his own viewpoint.

Russell did express a more positive outlook regarding Mercedes’ potential in the medium term. He cited the impressive development that the team demonstrated last year over the course of the season.

Russell expressed his trust in the team and their ability to develop the car at a similar pace to last year, which would give them an advantage over their starting point.

He also noted that the initial phase of the season has fewer races, which provides more time for development in the wind tunnel and at the factory before the primary block of races begins.

During pre-season testing, Mercedes had some promising results on the first and third days, but a perplexing and concerning performance on Friday.

When asked if this indicated that Mercedes had created another “diva” like the 2017 car, which initially posed issues in terms of performance, Russell indicated that the current situation appeared to be more of a one-off anomaly during testing rather than a sign of a fundamentally flawed or troublesome W14 for the entire season.

Russell explained that the team had ample time between testing and the race to examine what happened during testing.

Hamilton Predicted Slow Start for Mercedes in 2023 F1 Season

They found a few unexpected issues with the car, but the problems were easily resolved since they were working in a slightly incorrect window. The team made adjustments to address these issues, and they tested a rear wing that was not optimal for Bahrain, which was only for correlation purposes.

Consequently, they are implementing a different rear wing this weekend.

Russell believes that there are positive indicators, but he does not want to make any bold claims that Mercedes will be able to close the gap with Red Bull in terms of lap time. However, he does feel more at ease about the situation than he did on Friday night.

When asked about what Mercedes should do to narrow the gap with Red Bull, Russell explained that it comes down to the basics of increasing downforce and improving straight-line speed.

He added that everyone is always trying to increase downforce, but the challenge is to get the car as low as possible while still maximizing downforce, which is particularly difficult with the new car regulations.

Russell noted that another area that Mercedes needs to improve upon is being more efficient in a straight line.

He acknowledged that Red Bull has been very good in terms of drag, and he hopes that the small step improvement they made this weekend will be reflected in the speed traps. He believes that improving efficiency in this area could lead to some free lap time.


Russell emphasized the importance of trusting in Mercedes’ process, considering the team has built a world championship-winning car for eight consecutive seasons.

He pointed out that the team consists of the same highly capable individuals who have not forgotten how to build a fast race car. Although the team was on the back foot due to the challenges of the W13, Russell firmly believes that Mercedes will make progress during the season and narrow the gap with their competitors.

He added that there is no reason why they cannot compete as the season heats up.

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