Mercedes drivers: wish list for a new car

The future for Mercedes began with the shakedown at Silverstone. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are happy that the old W13 is now in the factory lobby. There is great hope that the new W14 will take on the strengths of its predecessor and do away with its weaknesses.

Six degrees in Silverstone: The learning effect is not great there. After the first 15 kilometers of the shakedown with the new Mercedes W14, George Russell could only report: "There were no major moments of shock." When asked if the car showed any signs of bouncing, the 25-year-old Englishman evaded: "We'll only see that in Bahrain."

Even on the first day of the film 24 hours later, there were no major insights. The British rain made life difficult for the drivers and the engineers. "It was a solid start to the program with the W14," concluded chief engineer Andrew Shovlin. "The conditions weren't particularly great for filming or driving. We ran the allowed 100 kilometers without any problems and both drivers gave us their impressions. It will probably be a little different in Bahrain, but at least everything seems to be working."

The old Mercedes W13 is finally history. It will not end up in the furthest corner of the museum, as originally planned, but will stand prominently in the lobby of the Brackley factory. As a reminder that success is not guaranteed.

The good side of the W13

"It's meant to remind us never to rest on our laurels. But also as a symbol of bold design. We dared, but failed for most of the season ", team boss Toto Wolff explains his decision.

The drivers breathe a sigh of relief that chapter W13 is closed. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell mostly remember the 2022 car for being inconsistent and unpredictable. But it also had its good sides, as Hamilton admits: "The best thing about the car was its reliability and long run pace. In the race, we always looked better than on a lap because of the lower tire wear."

Russell confirms: "The good stability brought us a lot of points. We were often able to benefit from the mistakes and breakdowns of the others. Our starts were also good on average." Then the Brazil winner even showed something like sympathy for the piñata, as Hamilton once dismissed it. "I think there was a lot of downforce hidden deep inside. We were rarely able to get it out because of the bouncing." One thing is already guaranteed: "The new car is lighter and it has less drag," reveals Russell.

Hamilton reports for the tire test

The drivers have completed their part of the preparation. Hamilton and Russell both share how they feel fitter and hungrier than ever.And they have already completed GP distances with last year's car in Paul Ricard and Jerez as part of Pirelli tests. "That shows how hot I am for the season," grinned Hamilton. "It's rare for me to sign up for tire tests. But I really wanted to drive again."

Russell doesn't just see a technical benefit in the driving date. "Every bone in my body ached after the day in Paul Ricard. Because of the low temperatures, the track was faster than ever. I'm glad that I had driver training to prepare for the Bahrain test. One and a half days of testing in Bahrain are damn low after twelve weeks without practice. My suggestion would therefore be three days of testing with two cars and not one."

Hamilton and Russell are confident they can fight for wins again with Red Bull and Ferrari. Maybe not right away, but at the latest when the first upgrades arrive. The timetable is ideal for the approach of engineers who do not want to break completely new ground with the first specification of the W14, but want to work towards it in stages.

"The calendar with fewer races and big breaks early on gives us the opportunity to do that," states Russell. Hamilton also preaches patience: "We should be closer to our competitors at the start of the season than we were last year and then catch up quickly."

Christmas for Hamilton

The 38-year-old Englishman is already entering his eleventh season with Mercedes. That's why he trusts the engineers to turn things around. "We have the best problem-solving team. There were already indications last year that we could fight back."

It felt like Christmas when the puzzle, which he had seen as a wind tunnel model in December, was put together in 1:1 format last week. "When you see how many details become a big whole, your respect for those who build the car is even greater."

George Russell feels ready enough to reach for the stars ahead of the start of his fifth Formula 1 season. Because he believes in the team and because he learned a lot from Hamilton in his first year.

"Lewis was especially better in tire management. He gets the maximum out of the tires through a stint. I learned the most from the races where things weren't going so well. Most of the time I was trying too hard. It's not always the quickest way to drive every lap at the limit. I understood that sometimes you have to be disciplined."


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