Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes will need the greatest six months of development in its history to catch Red Bull next season in F1.
Over the summer, Mercedes’ W14 established itself as the second fastest car on the grid behind Red Bull’s dominant RB19.
But in Japan last weekend, Mercedes was comprehensively outpaced by McLaren and by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, let alone by Red Bull, a performance that highlighted the magnitude of the progress that will be required for the Brackley squad to challenge the bulls in 2024.
At the end of last season, Hamilton encouraged Mercedes to develop away from the bold zero-sidepod concept that it introduced at the start of 2022.
However, the team’s engineers persisted with their radical ground-effect package before they finally shifted away from the ill-fated concept when Mercedes introduced a revamped W14 in Monaco in May.
Hamilton now sees another significant change of concept as necessary for Mercedes to battle its arch-rival Red Bull at the front of the field.
“I have no idea where the car is going to be next year, but we’re a long, long way away,” the seven-time world champion told Sky F1 in Japan.
“We’ve got to hope for the next six months to be the greatest six months of development that we’ve ever had to close that gap and to be really banging on the door.”
Bridging its significant performance gap to Red Bull is no small feat for Mercedes. But Hamilton points to the remarkable progress enjoyed by McLaren over the summer as a good case study for his team.
“The evidence is there at McLaren, and we can’t turn a blind eye to that – to look at what they’ve done and go in that direction,” he said. “That is the direction.
“But I truly believe my team can do it, and we’ve always been great at putting downforce on the car. It’s just that, with the way our car currently works, adding downforce doesn’t work, it just makes it bounce more.
“Hopefully with a change in philosophy, we’ll be back to where the team deserves because this is a world championship team, we still are an amazing team.
“I have absolute faith in everyone but decisions that are made in this period of time are critical for our trajectory.”
In the interim, Hamilton knows that there’s a cap on his winning ambitions. But the Briton is still giving it his all on race weekends to salvage as many points as possible for the benefit of Mercedes’ position in the Constructors’ standings.
“I’m giving absolutely everything, but it’s tough on weekends like this, particularly where the car is such a handful,” he said.
“Basically, it’s the exact same as last year. Feeling-wise, the car felt just the same as last year. It’s bouncing and sliding, so that’s tough given how much work we’ve done to progress and we’re not any closer to the front, at least here.”
The post Hamilton: Mercedes needs 'greatest' development period ever to catch Red Bull appeared first on F1i.com.