The penultimate race weekend of the season is getting closer, and therefore the pressure on Mercedes’ shoulders is increasing. After a disappointing result in Brazil, drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are hoping for a better performance in Las Vegas, but according to both men the W14 is still too unpredictable to make concrete predictions.
Mercedes is undoubtedly one of the teams hoping for a miracle in Las Vegas, and the team can certainly use that after the disappointing performance in São Paulo. Team boss Toto Wolff even described the weekend in Brazil as the worst race weekend of his Formula 1 career, so there is work to be done. Sky Sports F1 spoke to both Hamilton and Russell at the Mercedes event in the run-up to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, where they looked back on the problems in Brazil, among other things.
According to Hamilton, the team has taken quite a few steps in the right direction over the past week and a half. “We now know one hundred percent for sure where things went wrong in Brazil,” the Briton emphasized. ‘But of course that doesn’t change the fact that we did a terrible job there. Yet we have learned a lot from it, especially about the direction we want to take when it comes to development.’
No definitive statements yet on Vegas odds
The seven-time world champion hopes that the mistakes that Mercedes made in São Paulo can push them once again in the right direction in the run-up to the race weekend in Las Vegas. ‘There are always things that you can learn by making mistakes, so we hope that we can handle everything a lot better in the run-up to Las Vegas.’ Yet the Brit is forced to remain realistic: ‘But of course we have no idea yet how the car will do here.’
Mercedes has not had an easy season, and the team even runs a great risk of not winning in a season for the first time since 2011. However, it seems that the German racing team has now given up hope of a victory, and that is why they are now trying to do everything they can to keep Ferrari behind them in the constructors’ championship.
“This is just not a car we can win championships with,” Hamilton begins, “and I don’t even think this is a car we can win races with at the moment. We really have to work on that for next year.’ Yet the seven-time world champion is not giving up yet, because there is at least one battle without a winner this season. “We will do everything we can to compete for Ferrari, and to even think that we can compete for second place is impressive considering where we were at the start of the season. I hope we can defend that spot.”
Temperatures can throw a spanner in the works, according to Russell
Russell also emphasized that Las Vegas still poses many uncertainties for Mercedes, although according to the Brit this also has to do with external factors. The weather forecasts look anything but favorable in Las Vegas, although Russell hopes that this can also have positive consequences. ‘It can certainly be a weekend full of possibilities. It’s all unknown anyway because Pirelli tires are difficult to maintain, even in the most ideal conditions. But they are also designed for warmer temperatures.’
In Las Vegas, however, there are completely different figures on the radar, as the Mercedes driver also knows. ‘We always talk about asphalt temperatures that average between thirty and sixty degrees Celsius, but expectations in Las Vegas actually show figures between ten and fifteen degrees. That’s about twice as cold as the tires are used to.’ Russell therefore expects that the drivers will have a particularly difficult time during qualifying. ‘It will be difficult to maintain the temperature in the tires during qualifying, and a lot of graining will occur during the race.’
Yet Russell also sees the fun in it, because in a season in which Red Bull Racing dominated just about everything, a change in circumstances is not so bad. “It will undoubtedly be a weekend full of possibilities,” the Brit expects. ‘But who knows, maybe the tires will suddenly work fantastic when we drive onto the track and the situation will hardly differ from what we saw before.’
Can Mercedes turn the tide in 2024?
The end of the season is now in sight, but Mercedes has been looking forward to 2024 for some time now. The German racing stable regularly seemed to be in the dark and was unable to deliver the desired results, so the winter break will be crucial for them to continue. implement necessary changes. According to Russell, he is also on the same page as Hamilton when it comes to the desired adjustments. ‘Of course we have a very different driving style, but the fundamental problems we both encounter are simply the same.’
According to the Brit, the teammates keep repeating the criticism that the other made just before, and Russell thinks that is a good sign for the team’s progress. “It shows that the problem is clear.” So something has to change if the German racing team wants to compete with Red Bull Racing again from 2024, Russell knows. “We dare to be cautiously optimistic in the run-up to next year,” the Brit emphasizes, however.
‘We no longer wonder why we are so slow, because we already know that.’ According to Russell, it is clear at Mercedes where exactly they went wrong, and it is only a matter of solving the problems. “We have so many problems to solve, and that gives us hope. Because if we solve them we can take a big step forward, but now we have to do everything we can to achieve that.’
However, Hamilton emphasized that he wants to keep an eye on things from the sidelines, but will not actively interfere with the progress. ‘I’m not going to interfere because I just have to let the team do their job. Ultimately, they know best, although I like to check in every now and then to see how things are going. But you just have to give it time, because development takes a long time. Small steps every week, and I also have to work on myself in between.’