Ever since Mercedes have accepted their failure at the ‘zero’ side pods development concept, the new upgrades on the W14 have transformed Lewis Hamilton’s season and he has set a new benchmark for George Russell to chase.
As early as the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, the Brackley-based team drastically changed their cars fundamentals – replacing the no side pods with a more conventional approach. The addition of side pods.
Both of the teams’ drivers were happy and proud of the progress made with this new direction of development, but it’s Lewis Hamilton that has appeared to respond particularly well with the modified W14. In the early races Hamilton admitted to having no confidence in the car’s handling and an issue with the Mercedes loose rear end and traction out of the corners. Since their upgrade, Hamilton has consistently been outperforming his teammate and looks back to his old ways.
George Russell proved his talent and why he is so deserving of that Mercedes seat last year, out-scoring Hamilton over the season, notably with Hamilton taking a lot of pain trying to help his team develop the car to be able to fight for wins. In 2023, Russell started as he left off, after a win at the end of 2022 in Brazil, the first 5 races of this season for the young Brit were setting the standard and unlocking the full potential of the car.
Russell’s highlights from the early part of the season include leading in Australia after a super drive but retiring due to reliability. He qualified strongly and outscored Hamilton in Jeddah. In Azerbaijan he took the fight to Verstappen in the sprint race, beating his teammate and led Hamilton in Miami as well.
But ever since the new concept and side pods arrived on the W14, it’s Hamilton that has appeared back to his old self, and very often been the quicker of the two Mercedes. Hamilton claimed podium finishes in Spain, Canada, and bagged another at home in Silverstone in front of his adoring fans. Add on to this a simply remarkable lap in qualifying at the Hungaroring, producing Hamilton’s first pole position for more than a year and a half.
Now it’s George Russell who is the driver looking to find his form. The rain affected sprint race weekend at Spa didn’t allow the team to test their most recent upgrade to its potential, and both drivers ran drastically different downforce levels on their cars. For Russell it looks like the season break couldn’t have come sooner, but which way will the pendulum swing after the break?