World champion Lewis Hamilton has described the 2017 Mercedes as “the toughest” to understand of all the Formula 1 cars he has driven during his grand prix career.
Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s F1 pole position record with the Mercedes W08, and won nine races in taking his fourth career title, but trailed chief rival Sebastian Vettel for most of the championship as Mercedes struggled to unlock the car’s potential consistently.
The W08 was hard on its tyres in the early part of the year, and particularly troublesome on Pirelli’s new ultrasoft compound, as well as retaining some of the weaknesses on low-speed circuits that were present in the preceding Mercedes of the V6 era.
When asked whether he’d a driven a car as difficult to understand as the W08 during his career, Hamilton replied: “This is the toughest one.
“Some of the issues we’ve had have been with us for years and we are only just realising we need to really do something.
“New car, being on a wider scale magnifies the issue, I think. A different tyre dynamic, it has been the hardest in that respect.
“2008 [was] a difficult one too. 2009 was horrible. This is a great car, but it has been tricky getting it to work.”
The car’s appetite for rear tyres in particular made it difficult to operate, and Hamilton said the drivers were often balancing on a knife’s edge between under and overdriving the car to extract its potential.