George Russell has warned Mercedes they can expect to be fighting McLaren for the remainder of this season after the Woking team’s “quite surprising” improvement.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen aside, McLaren was the in-form team at the British Grand Prix as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri qualified second and third at the team’s home race before bringing their MCL60s home in second and fourth place.
The result followed on from Norris’ P4 at the previous race in Austria, McLaren’s points-scoring form coming on the back of a huge upgrade for the MCL60.
George Russell predicts McLaren won’t drop off
Billed as an extensive overhaul split over three races, Austria, Silverstone and Hungary, the new-look MCL60 is the brainchild of a revised technical department that was created by new team principal Andrea Stella in April.
Stella called the upgrades a “major overhaul” that would influence “pretty much every single aerodynamic part” of McLaren’s 2023 car. “I would say it’s pretty much the entire car,” he added.
Russell and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton both had a good look at the revised car, at the very least it’s rear-end, as Hamilton spent the latter part of the British Grand Prix chasing Norris while Russell was stuck behind Piastri.
Although the Mercedes drivers had soft tyres on after the Safety car restart, neither driver was a match for the McLaren team-mates on the hard tyres and had to settle for third for Hamilton, and fifth for Russell.
The 25-year-old reckons such is McLaren’s improved pace, Mercedes can expect to be fighting them for the remainder of the season.
“I see no reason why they shouldn’t be up there now,” he said.
“We’ve come from Red Bull Ring, which is a very different circuit to Silverstone. And they were a small step ahead of us on both occasions.
“So I don’t know how they’re found this much performance. It’s been quite surprising. We don’t tend to focus too much on our competitors. We just need to keep focusing on ourselves.”
Like his team boss Toto Wolff, he reckons Mercedes should be encouraged by McLaren’s leap forward.
“Yes,” he said, “it gives us inspiration that it can be possible, but we need to try and turn it up and we need to find more performance and quick.”
Wolff, meanwhile, was happy to see McLaren take the fight to Mercedes at Silverstone.
“It’s making me very proud,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, after the British Grand Prix, “because this is a very power unit-sensitive track and the Mercedes engines performed really well with six in the top 10.”
He too was encouraged that the McLaren upgrades worked so well given Mercedes too are going down the revamp look.
“We have the resurgence of McLaren who were not competitive at the beginning of the year,” he added. “It’s good to see because that means, if you’re taking the right decisions with your car, your car can jump up by a huge amount.”
10 races into this season Mercedes are second on the Constructors’ log with 203 points with McLaren fifth on 59.