Lewis Hamilton doubles down on Mercedes demand after poor Japan GP qualifying

Lewis Hamilton has reiterated his desire for Mercedes to change their conceptual direction for the 2024 season and beyond after the team struggled for pace in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. 

Hamilton has previously been vocal in his frustrations with the development path that Mercedes opted to take for 2023. The Brackley-based team doubled down on their ‘zeropod’ design concept this season before changing direction from Monaco onwards.

The seven-time world champion revealed earlier in the campaign that he had voiced his concerns with the issues of the W13 over the winter and advised the team to change up the design philosophy for the W14, but Mercedes opted to go against his recommendation. 

Mercedes’ flaws were exposed even more so than usual during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday. Hamilton was extremely happy with his lap but could only record a P7 finish, behind both Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren drivers. 

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“Yesterday was a bad day,” Hamilton explained to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying. “Each weekend we are having, out of the three days there is at least one bad day.

“The balance didn’t feel great yesterday, we did some changes and good work overnight, and the car has felt generally really nice today. It has been nice to drive through P3, so I’ve been feeling much more confident.

“Then in qualifying I was giving it everything but that seven tenths deficit we have in sector one, it’s all rear end. Our car has loads of load on the front and not as much as we need on the rear.

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“So we’re a really long way down on that and for me, it’s 100 per cent clear that’s concept and we have got to make sure we change that for next year, which hopefully we will.”

The seven-time world champion endured a turbulent start to the weekend, only barely improving from a dismal 16th-place finish in FP1 to a P14 finish when the chequered flag waved at the end of FP2. 

Hamilton made some positive improvements during FP3 on Saturday after the team fine-tuned their set-up overnight before punching in the seventh-fastest lap of the session during Q3 when the chips were on the table. 

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