Lewis Hamilton admitted after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that the fact he “survived” the season is the only positive he can take out of 2023, as Mercedes’ second consecutive woeful campaign drew to a close.
Last Sunday’s season finale was another disappointing affair for Hamilton, who was dumped out in Q2 for the second Grand Prix in a row, something which previously hadn’t happened since 2014.
He started in 11th and struggled to make any progress, partly due to front-wing damage after he hit Pierre Gasly.
Hamilton ultimately had to settle for ninth, whilst George Russell did superbly to finish third and secure Mercedes P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Whilst, on paper, finishing second is a positive for the team, they ended the campaign a staggering 451 points behind Red Bull.
This has really concerned Hamilton as Red Bull haven’t developed the RB19 since August, yet Max Verstappen has still been able to cruise to victory in the likes of Abu Dhabi with complete ease.
“Not great,” Hamilton said of his mood, as reported by Autosport. “I just finished ninth; two really bad races [seventh in Las Vegas].
“Red Bull won by 17 seconds and have not touched the car since August. So, you can pretty much guess where they’re going to be next year… I was just slow throughout the race.”
Compared to 2022, 2023 has been a better year for Hamilton, as he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship and also managed to claim pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
However, he still hasn’t won a race since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, giving him very little to be positive about ahead of the winter break.
“Not too much really,” Hamilton admitted to Sky Sports F1, when asked what positives he can take from the season.
“It’s not been a great year in general. So, there’s not a lot to take from the year. The fact that I survived it… that’s about it.”
Red Bull’s advantage over Mercedes in particular is a real “concern” for Mercedes and for Hamilton, especially as the Silver Arrows did continue developing the W14 much later into the season than the Austrians.
The fact Mercedes still struggled to get close to Red Bull worries Hamilton, who openly admitted that it’s “just down to the team” to design a car over the winter that can hopefully be competitive in 2024.
“[Red Bull] haven’t even developed their car since August; it’s definitely a concern,” stressed Hamilton.
“But we’ve learned a lot about the car and it’s just down to the team now and they know what they need to do. Whether or not we’ll get there, we’ll see.”