Lewis Hamilton says he suffered ‘kick in the gut’

Lewis Hamilton has called for desperate upgrades to the Mercedes W14 as the team looks to fight for victory in 2023.

Despite a promising start to Friday’s practice seeing Mercedes top the timesheet in FP1, the team dropped back in FP2, reflecting their ongoing struggles on track.

Hamilton fell back from P2 to P7 across the two sessions, while his teammate George Russell dropped from P1 to P15, as the pair were clearly facing issues with the handling of the W14.

The poor showing in the second session left Hamilton visibly disappointed, as he declared that Mercedes “desperately need” to roll out upgrades following a “kick in the gut.”

While Mercedes appeared to have overcome its early issues at the Australian Grand Prix, as Russell started on the front row and Hamilton took P2 at the chequered flag, that appears to have been a one-off success with the current car.

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“Melbourne, obviously, was a night-and-day difference – much, much nicer to drive there,” Hamilton said.

Mercedes experimenting with set-up changes in Miami

The eight-time Constructors’ Champions are in the midst of an effort to revise their car through a major update set to be unveiled in a week at Imola, meaning Hamilton has to battle through another weekend with an underperforming car.

Having been critical of the W14’s design since the season began, believing that he wasn’t listened to during the development of the car, Hamilton stated that the Imola upgrades can’t come quick enough.

“The same as every weekend, that we’re a second down,” Hamilton told Sky Sports when asked about his team’s challenges.

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“It’s a great weekend, it’s a great place to be, there’s lots of positives. 

“It’s just [that] we’re not particularly quick and it’s a struggle out there. 

“We’re just trying lots of different things.”

“P1 looked quite good and then to come into P2 and [see] the true pace come out is just a kick in the gut. It’s a little bit difficult to take sometimes, but it’s okay. 

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“We’ll just keep on working on it and we’ll regroup tonight and try and see if we can make some setup changes and get the car in a sweet spot.” 

Although Mercedes hasn’t found the key to success this year, it is still holding onto P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, close on Aston Martin’s tail.

However, both Mercedes and Aston Martin look unlikely to challenge for the Championship this year, as they are far behind Red Bull’s dominant lead.