An exhausted Lewis Hamilton wrestled his Mercedes to fifth place in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday and said the team faced their biggest Formula One development challenge in the coming months. The seven-time world champion, who has not won a race since 2021 and is now 38, said he was fighting hard for the team to finish second overall but major improvements had to come next season.
A Struggling Weekend
“It’s tough on weekends like this, particularly when the car is such a handful,” he said. “The car felt just the same as last year, it’s bouncing and sliding.” Hamilton managed to finish ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz but was beaten by the Italian team’s Charles Leclerc and both McLarens. Teammate George Russell finished seventh. He said Mercedes had taken the drivers’ opinions on board.
Time for Major Improvements
“I think all the points that George and I give have been fully listened to,” he told Sky Sports television at Suzuka. “I have no idea where the car is going to be next year but we are a long, long way away. The next six months have to be the greatest six months of development that we’ve ever had to close that gap and be really banging on the door,” said the Briton.
Learning from McLaren
With Mercedes-powered McLaren finishing second and third with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, Hamilton said Mercedes needed to take a good look. “We can’t turn a blind eye to that. We’ve got to look at what they’ve done and go in that direction. That is the direction. But I truly believe my team can do it,” he said.
“We’ve always been great at putting downforce on the car; it’s just that with the way our car currently works, adding downforce isn’t working — it just makes it bounce more. Hopefully, with the change in philosophy, we will be back to where the team deserves because this is a world championship team,” he added.
Lewis Hamilton’s remarks after the Japanese Grand Prix shed light on the challenges Mercedes faces in Formula One. While he managed to secure a fifth-place finish, Hamilton expressed his concern about the performance of the car and highlighted the need for major improvements in the coming months. The next six months will be crucial for Mercedes as they aim to close the gap and challenge for the championship in the following season.
Honda-powered McLaren’s success in the race also caught Hamilton’s attention, prompting him to emphasize the importance of learning from their competitor’s approach. Hamilton believes that Mercedes must analyze and adapt their strategies to move in the right direction, acknowledging that their current approach to adding downforce is not yielding the desired results.
In conclusion, Hamilton’s comments underscore the urgency of the situation for Mercedes. The team must focus on development over the next six months to address their current challenges and achieve the level of performance expected from a world championship team.