The world of Formula 1 is constantly evolving, with new regulations and rules being implemented to enhance competition, improve safety, and reduce costs. This year shares many of the car design rules first implemented in 2022 which were predominantly designed to improve racing and reduce ‘dirty air’, theoretically allowing cars to follow each other closer and opening the opportunity to overtake.
The 2022 F1 season marked a major overhaul in technical regulations, aiming to create closer racing and more exciting on-track battles. One of the key changes was the introduction of a completely new car design, featuring a simplified front wing, smaller bargeboards, and a revised rear wing.
New cars for F1, a new challenge for Hamilton
These alterations were intended to reduce the aerodynamic turbulence that affects the following cars, allowing for closer and more wheel-to-wheel racing.
Additionally, the ground effect concept made a comeback after several decades. F1 cars now incorporate a more pronounced underbody, with simplified and standardized elements, including the floor and diffuser. This change aimed to increase downforce while minimizing the dependency on the disrupted airflow generated by the car in front. The revised ground effect concept promotes the generation of downforce from underneath the car, rather than relying heavily on complex and sensitive aerodynamic appendages.
This move though. 😮💨
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) June 19, 2023
Prior to 2022, Hamilton had been a force to be reckoned with, securing seven World Championships and breaking numerous records along the way. The new regulations meant that the advantage Hamilton and Mercedes had enjoyed in terms of aerodynamic superiority was diminished.
Furthermore, the changes in regulations often bring a period of uncertainty and adaptation for drivers and teams. Hamilton’s ability to adapt quickly to new conditions and rules had been one of his strengths. However, the revised technical regulations and the altered dynamics of the sport created a more level playing field, with drivers and teams having to reevaluate their strategies and find new ways to gain an edge.
It is worth noting that Hamilton’s fall from dominance does not necessarily imply a decline in his skill or talent as a driver. Rather, it reflects the dynamic nature of Formula 1, where the competitive landscape can change with new rules and regulations. What has been apparent, however, has been the inability of Mercedes to bring updates that make a real difference. That was until this season after the big Monaco upgrade.
Hamilton declares he doesn’t like modern F1 cars
Cut to the Canadian Grand Prix of last weekend three races later, and we see a continuation of a resurgent Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, who achieve a third place podium in Montreal.
Although Mercedes’ performance has improved significantly since the first race in Bahrain in March 2023, Lewis Hamilton says that his W14, which has been updated since the Monaco Grand Prix, is not all that different from the car he drove in the first race.
This Sunday in Montreal, Lewis Hamilton finished on the third step of the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix, just behind Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, at the wheel of a Mercedes which has been updated for two races now and which seems to be working better and better.
Upgrades: Not really that different to before
It certainly appears that Hamilton bemoans modern F1 car design as he describes how the car updates have had an impact. One aspect said to be a gripe for Lewis Hamilton is the stiffness of the chassis, a complaint often cited last year when the ground effect induced bouncing on the straights (known as porpoising).
When asked after the race if he could explain more specifically how he feels at the wheel of the updated W14 now that he has been able to drive on different tracks since Monaco, the seven-time world champion replied:
“Actually, there’s not a big difference from the beginning of the year, even though some elements of the car are different, and obviously with the upgrade we just have more downforce,” explained Hamilton on Sunday evening in Montreal.
“But the characteristics of the car are very similar to what we had at the start of the year. So for the future, for next year’s car…we have to remove different things, but we will have to change them for sure.”
W14 won’t be winning races
Although Mercedes are now closer to Red Bull than they were at the start of the year, Hamilton believes that the W14 cannot yet claim victory on a regular basis and that the many bumps present on the Gilles Villeneuve track in Montreal made the task even more difficult last weekend in Canada.
“It’s certainly not a car capable of beating Red Bull at the moment. So we still need to work on that. For example, this track is very bumpy, and I think everyone struggled, but our car was very steep too. So I think we were struggling with the stiffness of our cars.”
“That’s one of the things I don’t like about this generation of cars. Back in the day, the straights were smooth, but in this day and age…”
After the Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton is fourth in the drivers’ championship, fifteen points behind Fernando Alonso.