Lewis Hamilton believes the Abu Dhabi GP is a worrying case study for Mercedes as they look to compete with Red Bull in 2024. Despite some encouraging moments, the British driver describes this season as one to regret.
There were a few reasons for Mercedes to celebrate after the last round of 2023. After a dramatic and ever-changing last race, they managed to secure P2 in the standings ahead of a compromised Ferrari.
The Italian team dropped significant points in Las Vegas, whilst a poor qualifying put Carlos Sainz on the backfoot in Yas Marina. Since the summer break, Ferrari has actually comfortably outscored their German rivals.
However, as reflected in the standings, Mercedes managed to keep second place. George Russell also collected a second podium of the year in Abu Dhabi, finishing a generally frustrating season with a strong result.
Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a less exciting afternoon, compromised after a difficult qualifying. Despite his team defeating Ferrari in the battle for the constructors, the 7-time Champion wasn’t very optimistic post-race.
Speaking to the media in Abu Dhabi, he was asked whether Mercedes can catch up to Red Bull over the winter:
“At this moment, I don’t really know,” he told Sky Sports.
“For Red Bull to win by 17 seconds, and they haven’t developed their car since August – it’s definitely a concern.
“We have learned a lot about the car, and it’s just down to the team now.
“They know what they need to do. Whether or not we will get there, we’ll see.”
Hamilton is correct to identify that Red Bull goes into the winter break with a substantial advantage. Even with restricted wind tunnel time, they have dominated over the last twelve months.
For Mercedes, a jump similar to what Aston Martin took last year will be necessary.
Unlike the Silverstone-based team, however, Mercedes cannot be satisfied with being second-fastest in Bahrain. The team puts their faith in the new concept overseen by James Allison, which should give the W15 greater potential.