Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he knew from the get-go back in February at the pre-season test that 2023 was going to be a “long year”, as the W14 felt “exactly the same” as Mercedes’ shocking 2022 car.
After struggling in the W13 throughout 2022, Hamilton asked Mercedes to make several key changes for 2023, in order to be more competitive.
Unfortunately for the seven-time World Champion, he discovered at the Bahrain International Circuit that his requests hadn’t been listened to, something which “frustrated” him.
Instead, the car he was given immediately dashed his hopes of a competitive season, with one of the issues having been that the Silver Arrows didn’t have a “North Star”.
Mercedes didn’t know what direction they needed to work in, to the extent that Hamilton now admits that the Brackley-based team were following a “zig-zag line”.
This was visible through their performances which constantly yo-yoed, with even Mercedes themselves having had little idea on what venues they’d be competitive at.
Even introducing a new concept at the Monaco Grand Prix failed to really kickstart their campaign, to the point that another entirely new design will be introduced for 2024.
It’s funny how even after claiming second in the Constructors’ Championship, the Silver Arrows and Hamilton still view 2023 as a disappointing season.
Reflecting on the recently completed campaign, Hamilton recalls how he entered the year a “little more apprehensive” because of how badly 2022 went; however, the 38-year-old still initially had “high hopes”.
“I remember it feeling exactly the same,” Hamilton told BBC Sport. “And that definitely was not a great feeling. I really had high hopes.
“In February, when we do a download of where the car is going, I was a little more apprehensive, because the previous year it was like: ‘The car is amazing, it’s unique, no one’s going to have anything like it.’
“So, I was a little bit more cautious when I was listening, and I was like: ‘We will see.’ And then the car had all these problems. I just knew it was going to be a long year.
“I think for this year they thought: ‘The fundamentals are good and we just have to go here.’ And it was not the case. That’s why I was frustrated in February because they hadn’t made the changes I’d asked for.
“But we didn’t have a North Star necessarily at the beginning of the year, knowing exactly where we need to work towards. It’s been kind of a zig-zag line trying to frickin’ get to where we need to be.”