Lewis Hamilton has admitted Mercedes may not be the fastest team to start the 2023 F1 World Championship, but backed his team to get on the pace early in the season.
Hamilton was speaking as Mercedes launched their 2023 car, the W14, at Brackley as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season.
But though Hamilton expects his team to be closer to the front than they were 12 months ago in Bahrain, he said they’re not inflating expectations.
“I think this year, everyone is a lot more grounded,” Hamilton told select media including Total-Motorsport.com. “We perhaps won’t be the fastest out of the gate, but we have the potential to close, hopefully we’ll be closer and have potential to close the gap earlier on in the season.”
Hamilton: We have the best team
Mercedes won 15 championships out of a possible 16 between 2014 and 2021 – the only exception being the hugely controversial 2021 drivers’ championship where only ‘human error’ from race director Michael Masi denied Hamilton the title.
However, they were brought crashing back down to earth in 2022 as the W13 suffered hugely from porpoising that prevented Mercedes from unlocking its full potential.
They finished a distant third in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull and Ferrari, but will be hoping they can return to regularly battling for race wins in 2023.
“I wouldn’t say I’m bullish like I was last year,” Hamilton added. “I would say just more cautious, I know that whatever we’re faced with, we have the best team to deal with whatever we come across.
“Now hopefully we hit the ground running, but it’s not always the case. And I think we showed last year that whatever we faced we can recover, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”