Lewis Hamilton says the seating position in the current Mercedes “has to change in the future” as it severely hurts his ability to get a feeling for what the car is doing.
Mercedes has already openly stated it will be looking to make radical changes to its 2023 car after starting the year too far off the pace and being concerned by the potential of the current development direction. Although team principal Toto Wolff is bullish about the early progress at the factory, Hamilton says where the team has placed the drivers within the wheelbase is a major problem that he has been unable to adapt to in order to play to his strengths.
“In the past I’ve always enjoyed an oversteering car,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know if people know but we sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.
“You feel like you’re sitting on the front wheels, which is one of the worst feelings to feel, when you’re driving a car. If you were driving your car at home and you pulled the wheels right under your legs you would not be happy when you were approaching the roundabout!
“So what that does is it just really changes the attitude of the car and how you perceive its movement, and it makes it harder to predict compared to when you’re further back and sitting more center, I would say. It’s something I have just really struggled with.
“On top of that we have an aero characteristic that is just too far forwards. Rather than being rear sat down as you begin to turn and coming off the brakes and then moving rearwards or the other way round, we have one that is very forwards, very much on the nose early on and then shifts later on. So it’s doing the opposite of what we want, and that’s what we’re trying to fix.”
Part of those fixes include the seating position — which is something that Hamilton says he would not have agreed to had he been aware of how it would impact his relationship with the car.
“Yeah, I mean I listen to the team and that was the direction that they said that we should go. Had I known the feeling that I would have in it then it wouldn’t have happened, and it has to change in the future, 100%.”
Despite those complaints, Hamilton says Mercedes doesn’t need to consider an overhaul of his technical structure in the same way McLaren has recently made changes, and insists he’s happy with the team as he plans to extend his contract.
“Well, you can’t compare us to McLaren, we’ve won eight world titles in the last 10 years. McLaren is like an old home for me — it’s old family, so I’m always looking to see where they are and hoping they figure things out and become the team they once were, the team I know them as being in my earlier days and before then, so I hope whatever restructuring they’re doing is good.
“We’re still a world championship-winning team, we’ve got amazing people who have been with us on that journey. We always need to hold ourselves accountable, each and every single one of us. We all need to look at how we go about things and how we do it better.
“There’s not a single person in the team that thinks they have done everything right and that they couldn’t do things better, and everyone’s just focused on correcting that and learning moving forwards collectively, and improving our communication and improving how we process things.
“That’s a huge thing for me, because if you’ve got a group of people who are just super stuck in their ways and don’t change, then you will just stay in that area of being noncompetitive. But these men and women are very open-minded, that’s inspiring for me to see the courage that they have, and I know that we will get there.”