Lewis Hamilton says his main focus during F1’s three-month winter break will be to get “my head in the right place” after enduring what he labeled as “a killer season”.
After years of dominance, for the second season in succession, Hamilton concluded his F1 campaign without a single win to his name, or to Mercedes’ name for that matter.
The Brackley squad’s inability to challenge Red Bull for the 2023 Formula 1 championship was a significant disappointment for the team, its drivers, and its fans.
In the wake of his struggles, Hamilton acknowledged the need for mental and physical rejuvenation during the upcoming winter break.
The three-month break will provide Hamilton with an opportunity to recharge, reset, and re-emerge with the mental clarity and focus necessary to reclaim his winning form, if Mercedes holds up its end of the bargain with its future W15 design.
“We have had so much work that we’ve done through the year,” Hamilton told Sky F1 in Abu Dhabi.
“I am on a group Teams chat basically with different departments and I will always be checking in. But, of course, I am going to unplug.
“I have to leave the guys to do what they do best. But I’m always going to be like: ‘Hey, I wonder how it’s going?’
“But you’ve just got to give them time, it takes time to develop. It’s small steps each week.
“And then, on top of that, I’ve got to get my head in the right place, I’ve got to get fit, prepare for the next season and spend some time with my family.
“It’s been a killer season.”
Hamilton’s determination to overcome adversity and return to the pinnacle of Formula 1 is a testament to his unwavering spirit and enduring passion for the sport.
But the 38-year-old’s best efforts will fall short of significance if Mercedes fails to provide him, along with teammate George Russell, a car befitting their outstanding talents.
The German outfit is designing its future contender from a blank slate but armed with the many lessons garnered from its arduous season.
However, given the unpredictable and dynamic of F1, Mercedes’ engineering excellence is no guarantee of success. And team boss Toto Wolff admits that there’s always a chance that it could get things wrong.
“We are changing the concept,” Wolff said in Abu Dhabi. “We are completely moving away from how we laid out the chassis, the weight distribution, the airflow.
“I mean, literally, there’s almost every component that’s being changed because only by doing that, I think we have a chance.
“We could get it wrong also. So, between not gaining what we expect, catching up and making a big step and competing in the front, everything is possible.”
Asked if he felt optimistic about Mercedes’ chances of turning around its fortunes in 2024, Wolff reminded his audience of his cautious nature.
“If you ask me, there's always scepticism but that's the mentality in the team and that pushes us forward to never give up,” he explained.
“I have never in my life felt optimistic about anything. Which makes it a little bit sound miserable.
“But it's protected me about managing my expectations and just pushing harder. I think it's never good enough.
“That's why I sit here [in Abu Dhabi] with a bittersweet feeling, we won P2 but we lost P1.”