Lewis Hamilton’s dismissal of talk suggesting Mercedes could focus on mastering their 2023 car early amid a troublesome season will be music to the ears of Red Bull and Max Verstappen. Both Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff have publicly stated their focus is on improving the W13 before thinking about next year’s package.
The Silver Arrows have got it wrong at the start of F1’s new era, with Ferrari and Red Bull leaving them behind. Hamilton hasn’t finished on the podium since the opening race in Bahrain and has been hit the worst by extreme porpoising issues.
While teammate George Russell hasn’t finished below P5, he’s been unable to consistently compete with Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. But despite being all but out of the running for a record eighth world title altogether, Hamilton has poured cold water on claims he needs to turn his focus towards 2023.
He said: “I think we need to find out what’s wrong with this car before we can make another car. If we started making another car, we could easily get it wrong. I think it’s about understanding this fully, which we haven’t done yet, and giving us a path to where to go.” Hamilton’s stance will come as good news to Ferrari and Red Bull, particularly the latter, who likely have no interest in being drawn into another fierce title battle with Wolff and Co. Verstappen had to controversially beat the Brit in the final race of last season in Saudi Arabia to claim his maiden Drivers’ Championship.
If Mercedes wrote the 2022 season off to put their focus on next year, they would undoubtedly hold an advantage. But it seems like no one from the Silver Arrows is willing to give up, and they still have hope of salvaging a successful campaign after their troublesome start.
Wolff has echoed Hamilton’s comments, stressing Mercedes must get to the bottom of the W13’s issues before thinking about next season’s car. The Austrian hopes to use further developments to reduce issues and increase race pace before considering a concept change.
“If you want to change concept, you need to understand what is going to make the new concept faster than the current one,” Wolff explained. “If we knew that, we would have done it, so at the moment, it is still very much believing in our structure and our organisation and trying to bring developments and understanding in order to increase the pace of the car.