Lewis Hamilton has slammed Mercedes for failing to listen to his complaints about last year’s car when constructing its W14 package for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Despite taking only a single win last season and finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes opted to continue with its revolutionary zero sidepod concept.
However, in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix Mercedes slipped further back to possess only the fourth-fastest car in the field behind Aston Martin.
Hamilton, who finished fifth in the race, has claimed the German outfit didn’t take onboard his issues with last year’s troublesome car and accountability needs to be taken.
“Last year, I told them the issues that are with the car,” Hamilton said via BBC Radio 5 Live’s Chequered Flag post-race podcast.
“Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn’t need.
“And I think it’s really about accountability, it’s about owning up and saying ‘yeah, you know what, we didn’t listen to you, it’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”
Following eight consecutive championships, Mercedes were caught out by the porpoising phenomenon that impacted every team at the start of last year.
It eventually took the Brackley-based operation several rounds to get on top of the unforeseen problem before it could start improving the performance of the W13.
Although Mercedes were optimistic coming into 2023 after both drivers reported no problems with bouncing in its pre-season preparations, it rapidly became apparent the W14 was lacking the downforce level required to match the other top teams.
Throughout the Bahrain weekend Hamilton consistently complained about battling a handling imbalance, eventually contributing to him finishing 50.9s off the lead.
Such a devastating deficit to the front led Mercedes chief Toto Wolff to condemn the current car concept and highlight that the team needs to head in an alternative direction.
But Hamilton, despite his criticism, is still confident the eight-time World Champions can recover to eventually deliver him a car capable of returning to the top step of the podium.
“We’ve got to look into the balance through the corners, look at all the weak points and just huddle up as a team, that’s what we do,” the Brit rallied.
“We’re still multi-World Champions you know, it’s just they haven’t got it right this time.”
After winning his maiden F1 World Championship in only his second season in the sport, Hamilton endured something of a barren spell as McLaren struggled to sustain serious title bids during his remaining four years with the team.
The only occasion where the now seven-time championship winner would be in contention at the final round would come in 2010 when he remained a long shot for the prize.
Notably, Hamilton has past experience of suffering a similar situation to the current troubles Mercedes are combating just one year after his maiden title coronation in 2008.
McLaren slipped from winning the Drivers’ championship to the back across a single winter, with the birth of new technical regulations for 2009 catching out many teams.
The Woking side would make huge inroads across the remainder of the campaign to score two wins in the hands of Hamilton, and the British racer has called on his current Mercedes team to turn around its lacklustre start in a similar fashion.
“I’ve had many cars like this, particularly back in the McLaren days. I don’t know when or how we’re gonna turn it around but it’s gonna have to happen,” he demanded.
“They [Mercedes] didn’t get it right last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it right moving forwards.”