Japanese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton to visit Mercedes designers

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says he can “only beat the drum so much” to his Mercedes team about fixing the problems with their car for next season.

Hamilton qualified seventh for the Japanese Grand Prix, a second slower than Max Verstappen’s pole lap.

Hamilton said: “I know what the problem is; it’s just getting the guys to make the changes. I try to argue my point but it is not my job to design the car.

“I am hopeful they do the job but it is going to take real changes real quick.”

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The seven-time champion said that he was going to see the designers in the Mercedes wind tunnel when he visits the factory next week to “see if they are making those changes”.

Hamilton’s performance in Suzuka underlined the weaknesses of this year’s car.

Hamilton has been vocal with his verdict that Mercedes pursued the wrong design direction with their car this year, which is the same as the one they chose last year and very different from that of dominant Red Bull.

He has consistently complained of a lack of rear grip, and an unpredictable balance, and has said that the relatively forward seating position makes it more difficult for him to feel the car.

As early as the first race, he expressed his frustration that Mercedes had not abandoned their 2022 car philosophy and followed the route pioneered by Red Bull.

“It didn’t feel that shocking today,” Hamilton said on Saturday. “It was just unfortunately slow. I just have a huge lack of rear downforce so you are fighting the rear on a knife edge, you are right on the limit, and that means your [tyre] temperatures are going up and you’re losing grip through thermal deg [degradation] through the lap.

“An easy one second ahead of us for him [Verstappen]. I’ve had cars like that before and I know what it feels like and it’s pretty special when you drive a lap with a car with that sort of balance around here. So I am pushing and hoping for my team to build me that for next year.”

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