Hamilton vindicated as Mercedes’ “heads roll”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has performed a U-Turn and conceded to Lewis Hamilton’s demands that ‘heads must roll’ for the failure to deliver a car worthy of their star driver’s expectations. Despite insisting he would not be sacking engineers following “one of the worst days in racing” in Bahrain, Wolff appears to now accept Hamilton’s scathing assessment that “accountability” must be accepted for the failures in Mercedes’ technical department.

“Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs,” Hamilton insisted after a woeful qualifying session at the Formula One season opening weekend.



Wolff insists no engineers to be sacked

“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 Hamilton’s comments Toto Wolff was asked whether anyone would be dismissed for continuing to pursue a failing car design concept despite Mercedes’ worst season in a decade.

“An organisation is constantly changing and you can’t stop that either,” Wolff tactfully replied.

“Now it’s about how we develop further and discussions are taking place about what the organisation should look like in the future. But it is not as if we are going to make heads roll. It’s better to ask, ‘how can we function as well as possible in the future?’”



Allison to replace Mike Elliot

Now James Allison has been recalled to the role of team technical director replacing the outgoing Mike Elliot who is banished to the Mercedes’ America’s cup project which is a co-venture with INEOS.

The Mercedes F1 team has been in turmoil described by some as a ‘civil war’ following the launch of the W14 challenger for the 2023 season. Conflicting views became intrenched over how the team should proceed following its worst season in the V6 Turbo era as the technical team failed to meet the challenge of the big car design regulation changes implemented by the FIA for 2022.

Mike Elliot had taken the reigns from Allison in July of 2021 as the team began work on the all new W13 which proved to be a flop as the team won just one race with the car. Elliot’s design acquired the dubious record of becoming the first Formula One car Lewis Hamilton ever failed to win a race with.

Signs of an internal conflict were first evident last season when Lewis Hamilton made it clear he felt the Mercedes technical team should abandon the W13 philosophy all together in favour of a Red Bull or Ferrari type interpretation of the new car design regulations.

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Wolff backed Hamilton’s call to ‘start over’

Speaking after Hamilton was narrowly defeated at the Grand Prix in Austin, Toto Wolff backed Hamilton’s assessment stating, “The DNA of the car is going to change for next year, that’s clear.”

However, Elliot and his team believed the car had untapped potential and continued to stubbornly pursue the design philosophy they first created following Allison’s departure.

At this year’s launch of the W14 Elliot revealed, “We have completely changed front and rear suspension to help with the weight of the car and the handling.”

“Still, we have not completely abandoned the concept of the W13, which gave the entire team grey hairs in 2022.



Elliot defiant despite Hamilton’s demands

“There’s significant changes in the bodywork, the core DNA is the same,Elliot concluded in defiance of the car’s design critics.

Mercedes chief technical officer talked about there having been “a lot of goodness” in the W13, although the car had failings the team hoped to address.

Elliot refused to be cowed and defied his critics by citing Mercedes’ history of success.

“After eight years of winning back-to-back World Championships and then having a poor year, many might expect that we would be tearing up the drawings and starting again but that’s not the case,” Elliott stressed.

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Confidence lost before the W14 launch

Yet Toto Wolff was already displaying signs of no confidence in the all new Mercedes F1 car before it had turned a wheel in anger.

“We are now getting ready to start the next season. I see so much effort, motivation, and energy in the organisation to launch a car that will eventually be competitive enough to fight at the very front of the grid,” Wolff explained at the W14 launch.

The Mercedes boss later admitted he’d spent “15 minutes” contemplating the use of the word “eventually” before settling on including it in his statement.

Hamilton was unusually reserved at the big reveal of the Mercedes’ 2023 F1 challenger and several UK publications ran the headline, “Lewis Hamilton facial expression says it all.”



Hamilton demands design change – “100%”

The seven times champion has persisted in his criticism of the Mercedes technical team’s design most recently suggesting the driver’s position in the car was “all wrong.”

“We sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers,” said Hamilton in Australia. “Our cockpit is too close to the front.”

Lewis claimed had he known what the technical team were doing with this aspect of the car, “It wouldn’t have happened,” adding, “100%… it has to change in the future.”

So in the battle of car design ideas, it seems Hamilton has defeated the steadfast Mike Elliot who preferred to withdraw from the fray rather than compromise his beliefs.

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W14 upgrades rushed through

At the Australian GP Toto Wolff ruled out any changes to the car before the end of May.

“We’re doing good steps, good developments, but you’ve got to run them, confirm them, produce them.

“So, I think we’re not looking for introduction before Imola. We want to do it right also.”

Yet James Allison has since revealed there will be upgrades Mercedes’ bring to Baku which was the scene of Hamilton’s debilitating drive last year as he battled with his bouncing W13 car.

“We will be working in the drawing office also to bring some mechanical parts to the car, some different suspension components that we think will help the underlying balance of the car, and make it a more drivable thing, making it something that the drivers have more confidence to push right to the limit,” Allison reveals in a team video.



Hamilton seeking to stop the rot

The upgrades of course will have been conceived under Elliot’s leadership and should they improve the performance of the ailing W14 car, despite his absence Elliot will surely feel somewhat vindicated.

Allison’s return to the more hands on role of technical director is designed to rejuvenate the hopes of the workforce in Brackley although there are no quick fixes for Mercedes in their efforts to reign in the Red Bull cars.

The first measure of any Mercedes improvement will become evident post qualifying where they will look to close the 1.35 second gap from last season between Russell (best placed Merc) and the pole position time.

Whilst claiming victory in the battle of ideas over the Mercedes car design philosophy, Lewis Hamilton will be facing another fierce challenge in Baku as he seeks to stop the 3-0 qualifying run of George Russell this season.

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5 responses to “Hamilton vindicated as Mercedes’ “heads roll”

  1. That’s very emotive language for what should be a bit of fact recounting. If, in fact, Allison and Elliott have swapped jobs then surely it would be better to say that? Also, when did Hamilton call for anyone to be sacked or “heads to roll”? Asking for people to own their mistakes is not the same thing at all. I expected better of “thejudge”.

    • I expected better of “thejudge”.

      That’s probably the funniest thing I’ve read all day 🤣🤣🤣

  2. This is complete nonsense. Lewis is a contracted driver. He is not a Share holder, board member or executive staff. He is conreacted to drive the car. Yes he does that well but that does not give him the right to demand that his will be done. Then buy shares, become a board member or part of management staff. Untill then do what you do best and get paid for. Drive.

    • Hamilton’s tendency has always been to behave as if he owns Mercedes. Wolff made the mistake of giving Hamilton more importance than what he deserved as a driver. Being the politician that he is, Hamilton used the opportunity to inflate his position in the team and in the public. He must believe that he deserves his hollow championships.
      He is now like tha camel in the Camel and the Arab story.
      He never owns up his mistakes. No better example of that than of turn 5 in AD 21. It is quite usual for him to demand that heads roll for his shortcomings. First it was Michael Masi. Now he wants the head of Mike Elliot for his owm failures in 2023.
      What an atrocious creature he is. Single-handedly he has brought F1 down to gutter level. True F1 fans eagerly look forward to his exit. Even then it will take many years for F1 to return to be the decent sport that we have known.

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