In Formula 1, speed is king. And for the sport’s former dominance force, Mercedes, it’s top speed that’s on their minds – or a lack of it.
Recent grands prix have exposed another chink in the team’s armour, with star driver Lewis Hamilton shedding light on the issue with a candid admission. “Honestly, we’ve been very, very slow on the straight,” the seven time world champion revealed, after finishing a promising second behind Max Verstappen in the last two grands prix with a new floor bolted underneath his backside. Hamilton says the Brackley-made cars he’s been racing in 2022 and 2023 have been “quite draggy.”
Quantifying the impact of the aerodynamic inefficiency, he stated after Mexico: “We were losing like two-and-a-half tenths just into turn 1 before we even start braking.” He contrasted Mercedes’ struggles with the performance of their rivals, noting that the dominant Red Bull car is “very slippery on the straights.”
Team boss Toto Wolff is also forthright about the issue, acknowledging the team’s lack of top speed and its impact on their performance. “I think even if we had qualified on pole, we lack so much top speed on the straight that we probably wouldn’t have been able to maintain it,” he commented.
However, Wolff – already vowing to speed up Mercedes’ lagging pitstop times – doesn’t stop at diagnosing the problem. He also outlines the path forward as the team looks to end its now two-year title drought. “We have too much drag at the moment and our DRS is not at the same level as the others either. Those two things in combination cost us four to five kph and that makes the difference,” he explained.
Beyond the track, Hamilton also took the opportunity to address his lifestyle, which is often characterised by its hustle and bustle. Speaking with the French broadcaster Canal Plus, he defended his off-track activities, stating, “I like the feeling of being in a hurry.” He went on to add, “Generally I’m always very late, except if I have to get into my car. Then I’m on time.”