Lewis Hamilton’s 2023 campaign was a very mixed one, which on the whole was more positive than 2022.
After being beaten by George Russell in the Drivers’ Championship last year, Hamilton came back with a bang in 2023 and comfortably finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate, by a sizeable 59 points.
Russell could only salvage eighth in the standings, whilst Hamilton was able to secure third.
On paper, that sounds very positive, as does him securing the team’s only pole position of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mercedes beating Ferrari to second in the Constructors’ Championship is another reason why an outsider would think it was a good year for the Germans, but why wasn’t it?
For the second season in a row, Hamilton failed to win a race, meaning he’s remained winless since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
What makes it even worse is that at no event did the seven-time World Champion look like being in with a shot of victory, due to Red Bull’s and Max Verstappen’s dominance.
The inconsistent W14 hasn’t helped matters, as both Hamilton and Russell struggled to trust to car.
Hamilton’s issues with the 2023 car did make him ponder if he was the problem and if his magic had “gone”.
“There are always going to be moments when you’re like, ‘Is it me or is it the car?’,” Hamilton told The Race.
“Do you still have it? Has it gone? Because you’re missing that… when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you and you get that spark, it’s extraordinary, and that’s what you’re in the search for.
“Of course [I had these moments of doubt]; I’m only human. If anyone in the world tells you they don’t have those things they’re in denial. We’re all human beings.”
His main issue in 2023 has been qualifying, as he’s often left himself with too many places to make up during the races.
His race pace has actually been very strong and significantly better than Russell’s more often than not, whilst they’ve been more equal over one-lap.
The 38-year-old has been “really happy” with his race pace across the season but admits that work needs to be done to get the maximum performance out of the tyres.
Overall, though, he believes 2023 has been better than 2022.
“My racecraft and race pace I have been really happy with through the year, not a lot of mistakes, most of my race performances have been really good,” Hamilton said.
“So that level I am happy with, building that up to the level it should be. But qualifying is still an area that needs to be improved.
“We struggle as a team getting the performance out of these tyres and you’ll notice there [will be] one weekend where George [Russell] will be massively off and I’ll be OK and then it switches the other way.
“And those are down to small details with our car. So we need to work better as a team to be able to extract it more consistently, as some of the others do.
“Generally, I have been much happier with my performance this year than last year.”