Following another underwhelming campaign, Lewis Hamilton has openly admitted that he pondered whether he’d lost his magic or if his struggles were purely down to the car.
The gains Mercedes were hoping to make in 2023 simply didn’t materialise, with the Silver Arrows having arguably fallen further behind Red Bull.
Entering this year with a car based on the same concept that failed them in 2023 was Mercedes’ first mistake, as they soon discovered that it was the wrong decision.
This simply cost the Germans more development time, as they opted to introduce a new concept at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Mercedes’ performances improved slightly from then on, but 2023 still marked their first winless campaign since 2011.
As for Hamilton, he’s now gone two full seasons without a victory, with his last win still being the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The 38-year-old did at least claim pole position during the summer at the Hungarian Grand Prix; however, he failed to even convert it into a podium.
Hamilton’s only positives from the recently completed season are that he finished above George Russell in the Drivers’ Championship and secured P3 overall.
It’s certainly better than he managed in 2022; however, he still won’t remember 2023 in a fond light.
The seven-time World Champion has once again been forced to dig incredibly deep to get through the entire campaign, something which was harder than it should’ve been given that the W14 was so inconsistent.
Mercedes rarely knew ahead of a weekend whether they’d be strong or not, something which was illustrated ahead of the recent Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Brackley-based side expected to be strong in Interlagos as it’s where Russell claimed victory in 2022; however, this season they only just managed to score a few points.
Mercedes’ issues with the W14 even led to Hamilton questioning whether he’s still got what it takes, a thought he admits was “only human” to have.
“Ultimately, when you have difficult seasons like this, there are always going to be moments when you’re like, ‘is it me or is it the car?,” Hamilton told BBC Sport.
“‘Do I still have it? Has it gone?’ 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.
“Because you’re missing that, you know? When the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you, and that spark, it’s extraordinary. And that’s what you’re in the search for.”