Lewis Hamilton says he has high hopes that Mercedes can challenge for next year’s Formula 1 world championship after seeing a first glimpse of the team’s W15 at Brackley.

Hamilton paid an end-of-year visit to the Mercedes factory ahead of the winter break, after a difficult season where the team failed to win a race for the first time in over a decade.

But having beat Ferrari to second place in then constructors’ championship, Hamilton said team morale is high as it looks to make a step forward in 2024.

“I’ve been very busy,” said Hamilton ahead of Friday’s FIA prizegiving gala, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “It’s been a long, long year, but just tying up all the loose ends, working with the team.

“I was at the team yesterday just thanking everyone for the amazing work they’ve done throughout the year. It’s a special time of the year, you’re winding down and you’re seeing where we’re going next.”

Asked what kind of mood he found when he visited the Mercedes factory, Hamilton said: “The mood is very positive. I think all the members in the team are incredibly grateful to have got second in the constructors’ given the challenges that we faced this season. And so it’s always quite emotional.

“And I’ve been with the team for such a long time, but every time you go back to Brixworth and Brackley, and you’re reminded of just how big a team is pushing you forward from behind.

“And you see every individual, some people that are new to the team that have joined whilst I’ve been here, and some that have been way before, and also some that have worked on my engine since my first Grand Prix in F1. It’s amazing to see just the progress and the growth.

“And also our team is becoming more and more diverse, which has been really pleasing for me to see, that we are moving in the right direction.”

During his visit, Hamilton also used the time of check on how Mercedes was progressing with next year’s car.

While the seven-time world champion admitted it was difficult to judge where Mercedes was at with the ongoing development of the W15, he has “full faith” the team can produce a competitive package.

“I think it’s always difficult,” he said. “I’m not an engineer or a designer. So it’s not easy. It’s always the exciting time of the year because I have seen the car in the wind tunnel, I always go by the wind tunnel when I go to the factory, to see it evolving in whichever direction it ends up going.

“Literally when I was leaving yesterday again I popped in just to see where we were, and when I come back, it will be again a different animal.

“I have full faith in everyone that’s working on it. And I’m hopeful that we will be in a much more competitive position next year.”