Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes have a path to focus their hopes on by declaring that the new car represents a “North Star” for the team as they completely abandon the no-sidepod concept for the 2024 season.
Mercedes debuted the idea as a surprise at Bahrain testing in 2022 but it quickly fell below their expectations, despite taking a win at the Brazilian Grand Prix that convinced the team to hold faith in the idea.
They then revealed an adapted version at 2023 testing before early races showed it was futile and they applied conventional sidepods at the Monaco GP, although parts of the car could not be changed due to Formula 1 regulations.
“I do believe we have a North Star now,” Hamilton said to the BBC. “Which I don’t think we’ve had for two years, but still getting there is not a straight line.
“And there were just certain things, decisions that have been made, that just left you blocked at the end of a road, and you can’t do anything because of the cost cap and all these different things.”
Red Bull serves as inspiration
Despite his complaints about Red Bull’s dominant RB19 car and the implications on the quality of seasons the sport can offer, Hamilton pointed to them as an example to follow for his own team.
The Milton Keynes outfit quickly solved the issue of porpoising early into 2022 and from there on have simply gone from strength to strength, culminating in an astonishing 21 out of 22 wins in the 2023 season.
“If you look at the Red Bull, and they have done an amazing job, from Bahrain last year, they had a bouncing issue and they fixed it that week,” Hamilton added. “Then you can imagine, if you’re trying to build a wall, they add one brick after the other, just development, development, development.
“Maybe they added something and it didn’t add performance. But they were still building. Whereas for us, we had to knock down the wall, if you like, in terms of aero. We had a lot of aero on that first car last year. We had to basically knock a ton of downforce off it and then slowly try to add.
“But every time we tried to add, it was worse. So we just didn’t improve for a long, long, long time.”