For the return of ground effect in 2022, Mercedes pioneered its distinctive size-zero sidepod car concept but concluded its defense of the constructors’ title with only one grand prix victory.

Having run the car too low that year, Mercedes raised the platform for 2023 but hit an aerodynamic performance ceiling to prompt major bodywork design changes from Monaco.

For this year’s W15 challenger, Mercedes has from the start adopted a more conventional downwash sidepod architecture to cure lingering rear-end instability but enters this weekend’s Australian GP only fourth in the points, having fallen behind Ferrari and McLaren.

But Hamilton insists that the fundamental car platform still has plenty to offer and that it is not an “evil sister” – with team boss Toto Wolff having previously described ground-effect Mercedes as a “diva”, “miserable thing” and “nasty piece of work”.

Hamilton said: “It’s definitely not that evil sister or anything like that. I do think we have an amazing car; it has a lot of potential in it. We just haven’t maximized it at the moment through set-up.

“We’re obviously not happy with the performance in those first couple of races. But I think there’s a lot more potential in it that we just haven’t quite extracted yet.

“So, that’s what everyone’s focus is on, just trying to understand the car. We’re hoping this weekend is a step forward.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“A huge amount of work has gone on – everyone’s heads are down in the numbers. I feel positive this weekend. We’ve had two not such great races, but there’s a long way ahead.

Teammate George Russell has previously complained that Mercedes appears to be regressing as race weekends wear on, with the team falling back from the decent pace shown in the opening practice sessions. But he reckoned this was a case of Mercedes suffering from a lack of testing.

“We only done three days of practice and two races,” he said. “If you compare that to a football team, if they have done three days of training together, in the first two games of the season, they’ll still be understanding how to get the most out of each other and maximize the team…

“We’ve learned so much from the first two races. I think we’re all definitely going out [in Melbourne] to test a lot of things on the car to get a better handle on how to get the most out of this.”

Watch: Explained: Mercedes Grabs Resta from Ferrari in F1 Staff Swoop

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