Lewis Hamilton ‘motivated and focused’ for final Mercedes season as W15 car unveiled

Lewis Hamilton (centre left), Toto Wolff (centre) and George Russell (centre right) at the W15 launch
Lewis Hamilton (centre left), Toto Wolff (centre) and George Russell (centre right) at the W15 launch - Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton insists he feels “the most motivated and focused” he has ever felt ahead of his final season with Mercedes, adding it would be “the greatest honour of his career” to help the Brackley team get back on top before he departs for Ferrari.

Mercedes lifted the covers off their new challenger, the radically-redesigned W15, at Silverstone on Wednesday, before Hamilton and team mate George Russell performed the shakedown. And Hamilton said he could not wait to get going.

“I feel the most motivated and focused I’ve ever been,” said the seven-time world champion, who turned 39 in the offseason. “I know every year you come back and you’re like ‘I’m fitter than ever’. But I genuinely feel I’ve put more work and more time and more focus into my preparation this year. I never thought at this time of my life that I’d have hunger like I do now. And to finish on a high with the team would be a dream. We’ve gone through a whole heap together. To finish on a high would be the greatest honour, to help get them back to the top.”

The W15 is, in the words of team principal Toto Wolff, a “complete relaunch” following two uncompetitive seasons featuring just one win, Russell’s maiden F1 victory in Brazil in 2022.

Mercedes decided they needed to completely rethink the car’s core philosophy following the poor start to last year, and the W15 certainly looks very different. Gone is the so-called ‘zero-sidepod’ concept, dropped in favour of a solution more akin to that pioneered by champions Red Bull. Wolff said the major changes, though, were ‘underneath the bonnet’.

The W15 Mercedes
The W15 is a "very different" car to last year according to the Mercedes team principal - PA

“This is a complete relaunch of a car,” the Austrian noted. “It is very different, not only on the aerodynamic surfaces but mainly underneath. There are so many mechanical changes we have done which we hope will transfer into more predictability, a car the drivers can really push. We’ll see next week in Bahrain.”

Pre-season testing takes place in the Gulf kingdom next week from Feb 21-23, with the opening race of the season, also in Bahrain, on March 2.

Wolff, who recently signed a new three-year deal to stay on as team principal and chief executive, said the team had asked a lot of hard questions of themselves, and were fired up to take on Red Bull.

“We know it is difficult and a big mountain to climb because if a team is far ahead like Red Bull was last year it is not easy.

“But we have a superb driver combination, hopefully a fast car and I think there are some very good ingredients to be back at the front again.”

Hamilton, who heads to Ferrari next year, said it was “emotional” and “surreal” to be going into his final season with a manufacturer with whom he has spent his entire career, the last 11 of which have been with the Mercedes works team. “It’s very surreal to be here given I came here in 2013, so 11 years with the team, now starting my 12th,” he said. “The learnings of the past two years have helped us find our direction. It’s enabled us to find our north star. It’s still going to be a work in progress, but we will face whatever challenges present themselves with our heads up, with open minds, and work through diligently.”

With McLaren also launching their 2024 challenger on Wednesday, Red Bull are now the only team left to break cover.

Thursday’s launch at Milton Keynes promises to be a spectacularly awkward affair, what with the ongoing investigation into team principal Christian Horner following allegations from a female colleague of inappropriate controlling behaviour.

Horner, who has led the team to successive double world championships, spent over 8hrs last Friday being grilled by an independent barrister brought in by Red Bull’s parent company to look into the allegations. The investigation promises to drag on for some time yet.

Unlike the Mercedes launch, where the drivers and team principal did not take questions from media, Horner will be put up for interviews, as will both Red Bull drivers. The launch theme is a celebration of Red Bull’s 20 years in the sport.

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