Hamilton: "Not technical" Vegas F1 track layout will help Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton reckons the new Las Vegas Formula 1 track layout not being “the most technical of circuits” will boost his Mercedes squad following its car set-up struggles in Brazil.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Peter Bonnington, Senior Race Engineer, Mercedes AMG

Following two strong race performances for Hamilton at Austin (where he was ultimately disqualified from the results) and in Mexico, Mercedes had a poor weekend in Brazil last time out.

At the scene of its most recent race win, with George Russell in 2022, Mercedes struggled with its set-up leading to bad in-race tyre degradation at Interlagos.

The situation was so bad, the team considered pulling its cars out of parc ferme following the sprint race, but ultimately decided not to do so because it did not know what changes would actually improve things for its drivers.

The Interlagos track’s many different corner types and flowing middle sector provide a major contrast to the layout F1 teams will tackle this weekend in Vegas, where the all-new 3.86-mile course predominantly consists of long straights.

Hamilton, speaking in the pre-event press conference in Vegas on Wednesday night, is therefore hopeful Mercedes will have an easier time setting up its W14 as a result, although he does fear the straights could expose the car’s ongoing issues with additional drag.

“Definitely more than the last one,” Hamilton replied when asked how confident he was feeling ahead of 2023’s penultimate race.

“I still think it’s going to be a challenge and getting the tyres working this weekend [will be tough].

“We’re often not necessarily the quickest on the straights, so that will be a challenge – to see if we can not lose too much on the straights, but keep up with everyone in the corners.

“But it’s not the most technical of circuits, so hopefully that makes it a little bit easier.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Hamilton said Brazil “definitely felt like one of the worst” he has experienced in his 10-year stint with Mercedes and explained this was because “we just got the car in the wrong place”.

He added: “There is obviously potential in the car – we had two really great races before. We just had it in the wrong window and that’s on all of us.”

Hamilton also said he was “actually grateful” to have gone through Mercedes’ 2023 Interlagos struggles, as it showed the team it still has considerable work to do to finally get back to competing at the head of F1’s pack.

This follows suggestions from within Mercedes at the start of the season that it had been lulled into believing it had made progress with the W13 and W14 ‘zeropod’ car concepts by Russell’s 2022 Interlagos win.

But this ultimately turned out to be incorrect and Mercedes decided on the eve of the current campaign to finally head down the downwash design path Red Bull has been using as part of its F1 domination since the new ground-effect era began, finally unleashing its updated design at May’s Monaco round.

“I don’t know if [the team] necessarily needed to be reminded of how much work still needs to be done, but there’s always good things to take from a difficult weekend like that,” Hamilton explained.

“When you have those sorts of kicks, it puts things into perspective.

“I definitely think with last year, end of season we had that win and whilst it was a real big lift for the team, maybe it made us think we were gonna be better moving onto the next year.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

“So, I’m actually grateful for the experience [of the last race in Brazil] because the guys still know that we are still not as close as we would like to think.

“And meaning that we have to work harder. We just have to do a better job all round.

“No one in the team is under any illusions – we realise that we’ve got a steep mountain to climb.”

Related video

Previous article F1 teams reveal special Las Vegas GP liveries
Next article How F1 teams are attempting to negotiate Vegas unknowns