Lewis Hamilton’s warning shot to F1 2023 rivals: ‘We’re still the best team’

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, reaches for the railing. Hungary, July 2022. Credit: Alamy
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, reaches for the railing. Hungary, July 2022. Credit: Alamy

Lewis Hamilton said the Brazil result was what Mercedes needed ahead of F1 2023 to remind themselves that they remain Formula 1’s best team.

In what was an inconsistent and ultimately disappointing 2022 campaign for the team, ending with a P3 finish in the Constructors’ Championship, the highlight was a great one as they claimed a one-two finish in Brazil.

George Russell took the victory, the first of his career, as Hamilton followed his team-mate across the line.

The goal then is to experience these highs far more often once again in 2023, and Hamilton expects this will be the case.

Speaking to reporters after that Brazil result, Hamilton said: “It is the most important thing for us to have this result. This is a massive boost to the whole team’s morale.

“Going into the winter, the team knows that we’re on the right track. And we are still the best team. We will get back to having this more consistent I think next year and I’m excited for that battle.”

Hamilton also explained that after Brazil, Mercedes were able to see their ‘North Star’ in terms of a development focus over the winter for the W14.

Asked if the mighty improvement was a good sign for the W14’s development, Hamilton said: “Definitely is a great, great sign.

“For a long, long period of time, we couldn’t really, truly understand what the problem was or how to fix it. And it was difficult, because we kept trying and trying and trying and every time something new came, we still had the problems we had. So this is really, really huge.

“We know where our North Star is, we know where we need to put all our efforts in to this winter.”

Russell said the Brazil one-two was going to have the Mercedes factory “pumping” during the off-season, as he anticipates a stronger car from the start in 2023.

“The progress we’ve made as a team has just been unbelievable,” he said.

“So, the boost it’s given all of us and the confidence it’s given everybody back at the factory, the factory is going to be pumping over the winter.

“And we’re going to be giving everything we’ve got to come out in that very first test with a car that can compete from race one.”

As for how the W13 was feeling to drive, Russell said that did not change very much during the seaso, but he hopes that the W14 is going to give himself and Hamilton much more confidence when at the wheel.

“I think, in all honesty, the feeling is not too dissimilar to what it felt like at the start of the year,” said Russell. “The only difference is when we crossed the line and an engineer comes onto radio it’s talking top fives always as opposed to out in Q2, or whatever.

“So, I think that gives us – especially Lewis and I, so much confidence because if this is what we’re capable of doing as a team, when the car is still performing… sub-optimally, who knows what we can achieve when we get it into a nicer window?

“And we really think next year, we’re going to have a car that, its characteristics, will be feeling nicer, which will give Lewis and I more confidence to push it.”

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