Lewis Hamilton did not say that his 2023 F1 campaign car, the Mercedes W14, was rubbish in any way. We made the banner headlines up to show just how easy it is to twist words and make out-of-context claims. This is how the media operates, the producers of Drive To Survive do it all the time to boost ratings. Anyway, 2022 was a miserable year for Mercedes, the team failed to transition to the ground effect era in the same dominant manner they did with the hybrid engine era. Indeed Mercedes spent much of their 2022 season playing catchup. The Gulf between the W14 and RB18 was so vast that it made the RB18 appear to be never before seen alien space technology. In the world of Formula One, reducing a one-second deficit over winter development and testing is very rare. A new concept is required, one that is as equally advanced alien space technology as the Red Bull RB18 appeared to be.
The best Mercedes can do this season is reduce the lap time deficit. But in any development war, the team standing on the higher ground always has the advantage. After pre-season testing concluded, it became very apparent that Mercedes are not standing level with Red Bull. A tough season lies ahead for both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes opted for a zero-side pod design philosophy in 2022 and will continue to evolve the concept for the season ahead.
Speculation, from unconfirmed sources, suggested that Mercedes had a “Plan B” car at the ready should they decide that the zero-side pod is leading the team to a dead end. As with all speculation, especially F1, a “Plan B” W14-B never existed. But that didn’t stop those on the rumor treadmill from working up a sweat. With nothing else to write or speculate about F1 journalists simply got on their own rumor treadmill to fill empty column spaces. However, during a recent media interview, Lewis Hamilton swept aside the “Plan B” car as nothing more than “complete rubbish.”
Lewis Hamilton further clarified his thoughts about the Mercedes W14 and for the year ahead:
“All those people talking about a plan B, there is no plan B, it’s complete rubbish.”
“We are living in a time of a cost cap, to rebuild and redo a design of a car, you have to go back to square one, and we don’t have time in a season to do that, so that’s not on the cards.”
“… last year (2022) when we arrived and we had all those problems, all of us it was just like panic mode, trying to figure out what was the issue and then try and fix it, and it took us forever to fully try and understand it. This year we’re starting with a car that doesn’t bounce, but it is very, very similar to last year’s car, but there are some positives and I think it’s a good foundation to work from.”
“We will continue to evolve and build this car (Mercedes W14) and try to push it to the absolute limit. We’ll find out over the next couple of days what’s realistic,” said Hamilton. I prepared myself for a championship battle. Whether or not we have the equipment to fight for the championship, we’ll find out. I know I’ve got the best team behind me to close the gap, but it’s just finding that performance as fast as we can.”