Lewis Hamilton has distanced himself from Mercedes‘ decision to ditch their skinny sidepod design this season. The new-look W14 mirrors elements of Red Bull‘s RB19, with Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff looking to close the gap and restore the team’s F1 dominance.
Mercedes began the ground-effect design era, which was introduced last year, with a drastically different-looking car than the rest of their competitors. Narrow sidepods were an obvious distinction, and engineers ultimately had to admit defeat in 2023.
Eyebrows were raised when they broadly stuck with the same design at the start of this season, but Wolff was quick to commit to a drastic change after it became clear that Hamilton and his team-mate, George Russell, would once again be left significantly off the pace.
Hamilton was not shy in voicing his frustrations about the W14 before the changes were introduced, but the seven-time world champion insists that going down a new route, with a design that leans closer towards Red Bull, was not his decision.
These are ideas from the past year, with the team and George Russell we have been constantly working on questions like ‘why does this look like this’ and ‘have we tried this yet’,” the Brit told reporters.
“Now we have wider sidepods, a bit towards Red Bull’s, and I can say it wasn’t my decision to go this way. When we put the car on the track for the first time this year it was almost a copy of last year’s car, only it didn’t bounce. A bit like a prettier sister, but really with similar characteristics.”