[Mercedes hints at rethink over Red Bull F1 copy
McLaren has proved to be the surprise of the British Grand Prix weekend as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri secured second and third on the grid at Silverstone in the updated MCL60 car.
The dramatic progress that McLaren has made since switching floor and sidepod concepts has raised eyebrows at other teams, as the Woking-based squad has jumped from fighting near the back to becoming one of Red Bull’s main challengers in terms of single-lap pace.
Lewis Hamilton declared that the way that McLaren had made such a move with a Red Bull lookalike was a “wake-up call” for his own Mercedes squad as it battles to close the gap to the front.
Team boss Toto Wolff has admitted that McLaren’s progress should serve as food for thought for his engineers in it potentially needing to reevaluate going further down the Red Bull style route with the W14.
“I think from what you see from the outside, which is obviously only half the information, it is that the [McLaren] car looks like a Red Bull,” said Wolff.
“As a matter of fact, and to be honest, it doesn’t matter though – because only the stopwatch counts. And this is what I guess Lewis was referring too, that this kind of design seems to be a good direction.
“It’s easier said than done though. Each of us had bodywork that looked like the Red Bull in the tunnel, and it didn’t come up in performance.
“But we’ve got to leave no stone unturned and maybe look at it again because another team just found a second in performance.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, arrives in the paddock
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“It is quite weird how that fluctuates – because you would have said for a long time into the season that Aston Martin was second before us,” he explained.
“Probably they were our biggest competitor, obviously with Ferrari, and then suddenly you have McLaren in the mix in Austria.
“Clearly, one car had the upgrade, and he was very fast, here both cars have the upgrade and they are second and third on the grid. So, absolutely, it seems like they have made a massive step in understanding and performance.”
Wolff said there was no doubt that Mercedes needs to find further gains with its car but reckoned that the way that Aston Martin and McLaren had made such big inroads for 2023 was proof that dramatic progress could still be made.
“I think it’s very encouraging to see that Aston Martin found massive chunks of lap times from last year to this year, and in the same way you see within the season McLaren doing that,” he said.
“That is something that you need to take your hat off [to] if we see that consolidating. Certainly, for us, it was a good example of how you can turn things around.”