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Formula 1

‘Not a team that copies’ – Hamilton on 2023 Mercedes choices

by Scott Mitchell-Malm, Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

The 2023 Mercedes Formula 1 car is “similar looking in many respects” to its flawed predecessor, according to Lewis Hamilton – but the seven-time champion has commended his team for sticking to its design convictions.

Mercedes unveiled its W14 on Wednesday, the car featuring a continuation of the narrow sidepod concept that the team had pioneered with the disappointing W13 – with Mercedes keen, in the words of technical director Mike Elliott, “not to throw it all away and start again”.

It looks set to be an outlier in terms of sidepod design again in 2023, with rivals teams having converged towards either the Red Bull or (to a lesser extent) the Ferrari template from last year – although Mercedes has already made it clear that its ‘zero-pods’ could be redesigned as part of a future in-season upgrade.

Asked by The Race how he felt about Mercedes’ unique development direction given the aforementioned convergence, Hamilton said: “I don’t believe we’ve ever been a team that copied other people.

“We’ve always been of our own mind and always been a team that’s incredibly creative and innovative and liked to do it our way. And I think this worked in the past.

Mercedes Amg F1 W14 E Performance Launch Steve Etherington

“You can see a lot of the cars are converging to what the Red Bull looked like, except the Ferrari maybe. Last year we arrived and thought the car looked quick – and it wasn’t, with all the issues that we had.

“We’re coming into another season with a car that’s kind of similar-looking in many respects, because some of the elements are really hard to change. But you just have to have confidence in the engineers, and I do.

“So we’re sticking with it, we’re going with it and I hope when we get in it has the characteristics that we’ve asked for. But if not, then we’ll find a way.

“The job of the engineers and the designers is to come up with solutions. So we’ll prepare for ‘what if?’.

“You don’t have a crystal ball, you never know what is up ahead. All you can do is prepare yourself in the present and just work diligently towards solving whatever the issue is.”

Hamilton said Mercedes’ development plans have been “explained to us [drivers] in detail”.

“The great thing is I think we’ve got two strong drivers and kind of similar driving styles so I think it will be clear straight away if there are issues, what those issues will be,” he said. “And I think the guys understand the car much more to be able to deal with it.”

Of his and the team’s mindset going into the season, he acknowledged that he was “more cautious” after the disappointment of 2022. “So I think this year everyone is a lot more grounded, more of the approach that we perhaps won’t be the fastest out the gate, but hopefully we’ll be closer and hopefully have the potential to close the gap early on in the season.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Day Abu Dhabi, Uae

And while he has backed the W13 continuations within Mercedes’ 2023 design, Hamilton admitted there were not a lot of things he wanted retained from the old car in terms of driving characteristics.

“Our long-run pace was very strong last year. And also our reliability,” he said.

“So, those two are the things that I think we really want to hold onto. But all the other stuff we want to reinvent and redesign and hopefully see a more efficient car.”

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