Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton believes the technical shake-up at the team will help its efforts to climb back to the front of the Formula 1 grid.
Having ended last season in strong fashion with George Russel taking the race win in Brazil, the German side opted to keep its ‘zero sidepod’ design heading into 2023 as it hoped to provide more of a challenge to Red Bull at the front.
While both drivers comfortably scored points in both of the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the performance of Aston Martin and Red Bull’s runaway form immediately suggested that 2023 might be another title-less season for Mercedes.
Following Hamilton’s first podium appearance of the season last time out in Melbourne, Mercedes announced that Mike Elliott has left his Technical Director role and will now become Chief Technical Officer, with James Allison – who has plenty of experience with both Mercedes and Ferrari – stepping into Elliott’s role.
Hamilton voiced his support of the reshuffle after the underperformance last year and, seemingly, the continuation of those struggles in 2023.
“Well, James has always been a part of the team,” he said. “Obviously, he was focused a little bit on another area before. I think having him step back in a little bit to support and work alongside Mike is only going to strengthen the team going forward.
“He’s obviously got an amazing amount of experience so I think, moving forwards, it’s just going to be great for the team – particularly with all the things we want to achieve, not only on track but off-track as well.”
While the 38-year-old knows a repeat of his result in Australia is not a given, he is optimistic that the Brackley-based side will be able to compete – especially amid the late changes to the sprint schedule.
“I’m as confident as I can be I guess,” explained Hamilton. “A lot of work has been done in the background. I think the last race was really great for us. We worked really hard to get that result.
“I don’t think it will be easy to do again; the Ferraris will be quick, the Red Bulls will be quick – the Astons will be quick as well. So, I hope that we’re just in the mix, I hope that we get to battle with them.
“This is an amazing event for us to do that, particularly with the shake-up of the weekend. It’s probably the most exciting weekend so far this year. We’ll see how it turns out.”