Mercedes introduced a raft of long-awaited upgrades to their underperforming W14 challenger at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix as the German manufacturer finally abandoned their ‘zeropod’ philosophy.
Although Mercedes have stressed it was almost impossible to get a true read into how their revised W14 performed due to the unique nature of the Monaco circuit, Hamilton has made a worrying admission heading into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“When you bring upgrades, naturally you should be progressing forward,” the seven-time world champion explained in Barcelona on Thursday.
“The fact is it’s an improvement, it’s just not the improvement that we have dreamed of. But it’s one step at a time.
“I don’t feel any negativity towards it. I’m grateful we have it. The hard bit is I understand how much work has gone into making these parts.
“The amount of work – everyone’s really flat out and hungry to move the car in the right direction – so I would say that I’m just hopeful that it puts us on a better track that can progress from here on.”
But teammate George Russell hopes the upgrades will enable Mercedes to “jump” Ferrari in the F1 2023 pecking order.
“I think there’s a big variety from Saturday to Sunday performance,” he said. “I think when you look on Saturday performance, we are certainly behind Ferrari and Aston Martin and sometimes the Alpine as well.
“When you look into the Sunday performance, we are probably a little bit closer to Aston Martin, but this weekend will be a good test.
“We would like to think we can jump ahead of Ferrari, can hopefully close that gap to Fernando [Alonso] as he is definitely pretty fast, and try and close the gap to Red Bull.”
Russell added: “We didn’t learn anything from Monaco with regards to the new updates. So, this would be where we would take a new baseline and build from there.
“But there were certainly no nasty surprises. Considering how much we changed, I guess that was a positive in itself. But this will be a true test.”