Lewis Hamilton says he “knew” Mercedes had not chosen the correct design philosophy for their latest Formula 1 car the first time he saw it.
The seven-times world champion admitted he was immediately struck by the team’s decision to persist with a different concept to the rest of the grid. While rival teams have largely converged on two different approaches to the latest F1 regulations, Mercedes continue to pursue a unique arrangement featuring extremely narrow sidepods.
Speaking in the FIA press conference ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton said the team expected they might not be immediately on the pace at the first race, but hoped they wouldn’t be far off. The scale of their deficit came as a major disappointment, he admitted.
“The comments that I would hear [from the team] is that we probably won’t hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we should be there or thereabouts,” said Hamilton. “So it was a bit of a shock when that wasn’t obviously the case.”
Hamilton revealed he had misgivings about the W14 as soon as he saw it. “I knew that we weren’t in the right place when you saw the car for the first time, it looked still so much different to those of our competitors,” he said.
“It’s always nerve-wracking in that moment, but it looked nice – obviously the colour looks nice but I honestly don’t care what colour it is as long as it’s quick. But we will hopefully mould it into a winning car at some stage.”
In a recent interview Hamilton suggested Mercedes “didn’t listen” to his feedback on the car design last year. He said today that “wasn’t necessarily the best choice of words.”
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“But there are of course times where you’re not in agreement with certain team members,” he continued. “What’s important is that we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together.
“I still have 100% belief in this team, it is my family and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.”
However Hamilton added “we all need a kick, we all need to get on” after realising how far behind their rivals they have fallen.
“The proof is in the pudding, we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance and we’ve got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves in order to close the gap to [Red Bull]. They will run…
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