Lewis Hamilton has refused to openly talk up Mercedes’ chances of reclaiming the titles it lost last year come the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Up until 2022, Mercedes had become the benchmark team for everybody else throughout the V6 turbo-hybrid engine era, sweeping to eight consecutive Constructors’ titles and a further seven Drivers’ championships, including six for Hamilton.
However, the earth of new technical regulations witnessed a shuddering end to the German marque’s dominance, with their troubled W13 capable of only mustering a solitary win all year.
Although Mercedes is widely expected to get back in title-contending shape in the second season for this rule set, Hamilton has chosen to remain cautious about discussing the team’s chances of being back at the sharp end.
“I think this year, everyone is a lot more grounded,” Hamilton stated after the launch of Mercedes’ W14.
“We perhaps won’t be the fastest out of the gate, but we have the potential to close, hopefully we’ll be closer and have potential to close the gap earlier on in the season.”
By the time Mercedes’ 2022 package could deliver race-winning pace at the penultimate round of the season, the Silver Arrows had already been consigned to a third-place finish in the overall points standings behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
Nevertheless, Hamilton, who went winless for the first time in his entire F1 career last year, believes the recovery the team made in 2022 by achieving a 1-2 finish in Brazil proved it can recover from a difficult position.
While the Briton is less optimistic than last year of being in the hunt, Hamilton is anticipating the ‘best team’ can eventually provide him with the machinery to challenge for that elusive eighth world championship – even if the W14 doesn’t hit the ground running initially.
“I wouldn’t say I’m bullish like I was last year,” Hamilton proclaimed.
“I would say just more cautious, I know that whatever we’re faced with, we have the best team to deal with whatever we come across.
“Now hopefully we hit the ground running, but it’s not always the case. And I think we showed last year that whatever we faced we can recover, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Numerous other teams on the grid have unsurprisingly opted to take influence from the car that powered Red Bull to a comfortable championship double last year.
Mercedes, however, has elected to continue putting faith in their bold zero sidepod concept for another season, and Hamilton has commended his team’s decision to pursue its own direction on car philosophy instead of following the crowd.
“Of course you can see that some of the cars are approaching what a Red Bull might look like, perhaps with the exception of Ferrari,” Hamilton said.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been a team that copied other people.
“We’ve always had our own mind and have always been a team that’s incredibly creative and innovative and likes to do it our way. And I think that’s worked in the past.”
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