Speaking after he finished a distant fifth in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton said he knew better than the Mercedes engineers, and he was headed to the factory to make certain they were designing the 2024 car the way he wanted.
Lewis Hamilton’s ambitious hope for Mercedes’ 2024 Formula 1 car development is a pipe dream.
That’s the view of Gary Anderson, a former car development chief at the Jordan and Jaguar F1 teams. It came following comments Hamilton made after Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “I have no idea where the car is going to be next year but we are a long, long way away. The next six months have got to be the best six months of development we’ve ever had to close that gap, to be really banging on the door.”
Anderson does not believe that to be a realistic outcome for Mercedes. Writing for The Telegraph, he voiced his doubts over the Silver Arrows’ chances of making dramatic improvements any time soon and feels they still don’t have a complete grasp on their car’s weaknesses.
He wrote: “You would expect a team of Mercedes’ stature, experience and budget – they are there to win, not finish fifth and seventh – to improve their car during the season but they have not. It is very unlikely that the team will have miraculous development over the winter.
“Looking at the current rate of progress within the top five teams, I would expect Mercedes to be at best the fourth fastest team at the start of next year. You have to prove to yourself that you understand your problems and after 20 months and 38 races since these ground effect rules came into play I am yet to see this. A team cannot just put all their hopes into the winter.
“Not much has changed since the start of last year. They appear to go into a race meeting not having a clue what to expect. If I was at the team I would not have confidence that the direction they are taking next year – whatever it is – is the correct one.”
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has already admitted that his team does not have the second quickest car on the grid right now.
He said after the Suzuka race: “McLaren was a quicker car. When your opposition Is ahead of you with a buffer car in between you, you can’t really interact with them. Why is McLaren quick? Well, I think the update they did in Singapore didn’t look massive there. That’s all low-speed corners. Here it’s all high-speed. And you know, that’s what we saw them get very good at when they did the previous update in Austria. So, right now, they’ve just got a better car.”