Lewis Hamilton says McLaren have given Mercedes a “wake-up call” with their upgrades that make the MCL60 now more resemble the Red Bull RB19, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits maybe a re-think is needed.
Lando Norris had already put the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin on high alert in Austria at the wheel of what appeared to be a far-improved McLaren MCL60, following the introduction of stage one of their upgrade packages in F1 2023.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
And the British Grand Prix has seen McLaren make further strides, as Norris and team-mate Oscar Piastri, both now armed with the refined package for Silverstone, secured P2 and P3 on the grid respectively, Norris only a couple of tenths shy of Max Verstappen’s pole time in the dominant Red Bull RB19.
Hamilton meanwhile will start his home race from P7, and called this surge by his former team McLaren a “wake-up call” with they and Ferrari having now seemingly moved ahead of Mercedes after the trio have all introduced upgrade packages.
“It’s not a blow, it’s just a wake-up call for us,” Hamilton told media including PlanetF1.com. “Others have overtaken us and we need to do more.
“I’m not surprised. I mean, if you look at the car, it makes sense and I’m really happy for them – they’ve had such a bad run for so long. So to be back up there, it’s really great to see.”
While Mercedes ditched their ‘zero-pod’ concept for their W14 challenger with the first stage of their upgrades in Monaco, the W14 still carries bodywork which makes it unique to the styling of the Red Bull RB19.
Hamilton though believes McLaren’s alterations to their MCL60 has brought it more in-line with the Red Bull look, a potential sign to Mercedes of the path they must follow?
“If you just put it alongside a Red Bull, it looks very very similar down the side, so it’s working,” Hamilton continued.
“It’s great, we now have another team up in the mix which is what we want to see in this sport.
“They had the edge on us in the last race so I anticipate tomorrow will be the same.”
Mercedes team boss Wolff was then asked for his response to Hamilton’s comments, saying that whether the MCL60 is taking strong inspiration from the RB19 is not the key talking point here, as “only the stopwatch counts”.
And to that point, he admits that Mercedes may need to check whether they have overturned every stone, as it is impossible to ignore that McLaren “just found a second in performance”.
“I think from what you see from the outside, which is obviously only half the information, the car looks like a Red Bull,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com.
“And as a matter of fact, to be honest, it doesn’t matter, because only the stopwatch counts.
“And this is what I guess Lewis was referring to, that this kind of design seems to be a good direction, but this is easier said than done.
“I think each of us had bodyworks that were perfectly good in the tunnel and it didn’t come out in performance, so you’ve got to leave no stone unturned and maybe look at it again, because another team just found a second in performance.”
McLaren have not featured on the Formula 1 podium since the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP, but are seemingly in with a very strong chance of a top three result on Sunday at Silverstone.