Lewis Hamilton had admitted that the recently completed 2023 Formula 1 season was a “killer”, with him needing to spend some time away from racing to get hid “head in the right place” for 2024.
2023 was a second consecutive season of issues for Mercedes, who once again failed to give Hamilton and George Russell a competitive package.
It all went wrong from the very beginning, after the Silver Arrows decided to try and make the ‘zero sidepod’ philosophy work one last time, rather than listen to Hamilton’s requests.
The team ignoring Hamilton’s requests for the W14 ahead of pre-season testing earlier this year frustrated the seven-time World Champion even before the campaign got underway, something which was amplified after the side recognised they’d made a mess of the situation.
After acknowledging their blunder, the Brackley-based squad introduced a new concept at the Monaco Grand Prix, which did improve the side’s performances somewhat throughout the rest of the season.
However, one big problem continued to annoy both drivers and the team, inconsistency.
The W14 was so inconsistent it became impossible to predict where it’ll be strong, as proven at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
With Russell having won in Sao Paulo in 2022, Mercedes were confident that Interlagos would be a good circuit for them; instead, it turned out to be their worst weekend since the hybrid era began, in Toto Wolff’s opinion.
Both drivers looked deflated on multiple occasions, as the long campaign with a poor car clearly took its toll.
Hamilton did at least manage to claim third in the Drivers’ Championship and finish ahead of Russell, whilst he also secured six podiums and a pole position.
Ultimately, the season has left Hamilton exhausted, to the point that he’s going to “unplug” over the winter break to get himself into the right condition to enter the new year sharper than ever before.
“We have had so much work that we’ve done through the year,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 at the season finale.
“I am on a group Teams chat basically with different departments and I will always be checking in. But, of course, I am going to unplug.
“I have to leave the guys to do what they do best. But I’m always going to be like: ‘Hey, I wonder how it’s going?’
“But you’ve just got to give them time, it takes time to develop. It’s small steps each week.
“And then, on top of that, I’ve got to get my head in the right place, I’ve got to get fit, prepare for the next season and spend some time with my family.
“It’s been a killer season.”