There has been a rolling debate within the Mercedes team for almost a year now. Lewis Hamilton first revealed the internal dissent when he spoke in May last year about the W13 car.
“There’s definitely loads of things that I would not want from this car onto next year’s car, so I’ve already put those in.”
Mercedes stuck to original concept
Prior to the team bringing a raft of updates to the Spanish GP, Toto Wolff also admitted there was an ongoing debate over ditching the current concept of their racing car.
“Well I wouldn’t discount anything, but we need to give all our people benefit of the doubt.
“They have produced great race cars in the past and we believe that this is the route to go. Barcelona is definitely going to be a point in time where we are able to correlate with what we saw in February and gather more data.
The message for 2023 was very much that Mercedes were going to persist with the concept first laid out by their tech team last year and give it “one last chance.”
Elliot admits W14 rooted in W13
At the launch of the W14 technical director Mike Elliot remarked, “We believe there was a lot of goodness in the W13, along with some things that we didn’t like.
“For the W14, it’s about taking that goodness and carrying it forward, and correcting the issues that we had in the W13.”
He added: “When you look at the W14, you will see the DNA of the W13 but also a lot of evolution and detail improvement.
Following the three day pre-season test last week Lewis Hamilton was less than impressed with the new car saying the team “had a mountain to climb” if it was to become competitive.
Hamilton says team “on wrong track”
After the Friday practice sessions Hamilton was again critical of the car claiming the team was “on the wrong track” once again raising the speculation he is pushing to ditch the philosophy and DNA of the Mercedes W14 car.
Having watched his drivers qualify a disappointing P6 and P7 Toto Wolff was challenged as to whether Lewis Hamilton was “singing from the same hymn sheet” as the rest of the team.
“He’s absolutely in the same choir,” claimed Wolff.
“We’re supercritical with ourselves and what we want to achieve, there’s no such thing as a holy car and we’re looking at everything with the concept, did we get it right and should we have acted earlier?
Four years to win again?
“We just need to get our act together, we’re gonna get his eighth [world title], compared to [Fernando] Alonso he has another four years in him as a minimum, so we just need to get it done.”
Lewis Hamilton attempted to offer some positivity too as his team mate George Russell best placed of the pair was over half a second off the pole position lap time.
“Over a single lap, six tenths you can catch up,” he said.
Hamilton tries to be positive
“We were sixth tenths this time last year with all the bouncing and everything so it’s not an impossible mountain to climb so that’s a positive.
“We can definitely close that gap, we’ve just got to focus and push like never before.”
The real problem for Mercedes is both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen admit the Red Bull car is not optimised for one lap pace.
If it were, how big would the gap realistically be?