Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott has backed up Toto Wolff’s assessment that Mercedes need to find just “two or three tenths” of race pace.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished third and fourth respectively in the Austrian Grand Prix last time out, with the seven-time former World Champion crossing the line 41 seconds behind winner Charles Leclerc.
For Hamilton in particular, that represented a fine result considering he had crashed in the last part of qualifying and started the grand prix eighth on the grid having improved only one position during the previous day’s sprint.
Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, said the W13, which has been struggling compared to Red Bull and Ferrari all season, was “not quick enough to really challenge for the front yet”.
Although Hamilton and Russell have stepped onto the podium seven times between them this term, every time it was a result of having finished third.
Elliott, in Mercedes’ post-race debrief, believes the team are making progress with the various updates they are adding to the W13, but still have a little way to go before properly getting themselves back in the hunt for wins.
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“In the race on Sunday, Lewis was able to get through the slower cars that were in front of him, getting himself up into a position where he only had the Red Bulls and the Ferraris ahead,” explained Elliott.
“While we finished the race quite a chunk off the front, some of that was because the Ferraris and the Red Bull were able to stop under the Virtual Safety Car at the end and stop onto the medium tyres and effectively get a cheap stop.
“If you correct the pace for degradation, we think we were probably two, maybe three tenths behind the Ferrari, which was the quickest car in the race.
“While that isn’t where we aim to be – we want to be fighting at the front, we want to be the quickest car we possibly can be – compared to where we have been over the course of the season at circuits like this, I think it was a good result for us and shows the bits we are bringing to the car are starting to make the step forward we want to make.
“Hopefully we can keep making those steps forward and get ourselves into a position where we can compete at the front in every race.”
Where do Mercedes stand right now?
Mercedes have certainly improved over the past few races, but can they challenge at the front again?