Lewis Hamilton warned Mercedes will have ‘at best fourth fastest car’ next year

Lewis Hamilton commits to Mercedes until 2025

Former Jaguar technical director Gary Anderson has issued a grim warning for Lewis Hamilton by insisting that Mercedes will only have the fourth-quickest car ‘at best’ next year. The Silver Arrows have lagged behind Red Bull in terms of outright pace following the regulation changes in 2022 and are showing no signs of catching up as things stand.

It was another disappointing weekend for Mercedes at the Japanese Grand Prix, where they failed to get on the podium as Max Verstappen cruised to yet another impressive victory. Anderson believes that things are unlikely to improve significantly over the winter, which could see Mercedes faced with the prospect of spending another year on the fringes in spite of their best efforts.

“You would expect a team of Mercedes’ stature, experience and budget – they are there to win, not finish fifth and seventh – to improve their car during the season but they have not,” wrote Anderson in his column for The Telegraph.

“It is very unlikely that the team will have miraculous development over the winter. Looking at the current rate of progress within the top five teams, I would expect Mercedes to be at best the fourth fastest team at the start of next year. You have to prove to yourself that you understand your problems and after 20 months and 38 races since these ground effect rules came into play I am yet to see this.

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“A team cannot just put all their hopes into the winter. Not much has changed since the start of last year. They appear to go into a race meeting not having a clue what to expect. If I was at the team I would not have confidence that the direction they are taking next year – whatever it is – is the correct one.

“They will probably be heading in the visual direction of Red Bull, but the visual side is only a small part in the overall performance of the car.”

Mercedes have slipped behind McLaren in terms of race pace over the last few weeks, with their British rivals having made plenty of progress after introducing a number of exciting upgrades. Ferrari have also improved considerably as of late, leaving Mercedes at risk of falling even further down the pecking order in the not-too-distant future.

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Hamilton, meanwhile, has already insisted that ‘the greatest six months of development’ will be needed over the winter for Mercedes to realise their faint hopes of catching Red Bull next season.

“I have no idea where the car is going to be next year, but we are a long, long way away,” said Hamilton after finishing fifth at Suzuka. “We’ve got to hope the next six months has to be the greatest six months of development that we’ve ever had just to close that gap, to be really banging on the door.

“The evidence is there with the McLarens, and we can’t turn a blind eye to that, we’ve got to look at what they’ve done and go in that direction, that is the direction. But I truly believe my team can do it.”

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