Hamilton recalls moment he first drove Mercedes W14 and 'knew it was going to be a long year'
Lewis Hamilton has revealed the moment he knew that Mercedes’ W14 “had problems”, and how he and the team were able to overcome their frustrations during the season.
Hamilton and Mercedes enjoyed plenty of success at the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era, with the Briton winning six world championships in seven years, while the Silver Arrows won an unprecedented eight constructors’ titles in a row.
But amid the new ground effect technical regulations that came into effect at the start of 2022, Mercedes struggled for performance compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari. Their situation did not improve much in 2023, although they did beat the Scuderia to second in the constructors' championship.
But speaking with BBC Sport last month, Hamilton – who has not added to his 103 wins in the last two seasons – revealed just when he knew that the W14 was not much better than its predecessor, the W13.
"I remember it feeling exactly the same," said Hamilton, comparing both cars. "And that definitely was not a great feeling. I really had high hopes.
“In February, when we do a download of where the car is going, I was a little more apprehensive, because the previous year it was like, 'The car is amazing, it's unique, no-one's going to have anything like it.' And then we get to the first test…
“So, I was a little bit more cautious when I was listening, and I was like, 'We will see.' And then the car had all these problems. I just knew it was going to be a long year. I'm sure there were frustrations, because I had asked for certain changes, and they weren't done.”
Hamilton also revealed that Mercedes did not know what the "problem" was and “no one knew how to fix it.”
However, the Briton had a good year personally as he wound up third in the championship, while also scoring six podiums.
Explaining what his mindset was during the season, Hamilton said: "Having the experience of the previous year, I just applied myself, in terms of digging down, sitting with the guys. We were having much better meetings.
"I was able to stay a lot more positive during the year and be like, 'It's going to be a long season, but let's not give up. Let's keep pushing towards getting the maximum out of the car, whatever that may be.'
"I think for this year they thought, 'The fundamentals are good, and we just have to go here,' and it was not the case. That's why I was frustrated in February, because they hadn't made the changes I'd asked for.
"But we didn't have a North Star necessarily at the beginning of the year, knowing exactly where we need to work towards. It's been kind of a zig-zag line trying to frickin' get to where we need to be.
"Every now and again, something positive happens and you're like, 'Ok, that's it.' And then it shifts, so the goalpost is always moving, which is typical."