Mercedes planning strong response to sudden ‘big gains’ from McLaren

Michelle Foster
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. Bahrain February 2023.

Toto Wolff in the paddock at pre-season testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Ahead of the final push prior to the summer break, Toto Wolff concedes several of Mercedes rivals have made bigger gains of late with McLaren leading that charge.

But rather than take it as a slight, the motorsport boss says Mercedes should be “encouraged” by their engine customer’s improvements.

As Red Bull emerged as a force to be reckoned with this season, their rivals have been left to fight it out amongst themselves for best of the rest.

Mercedes: We need to keep adding performance

That first went to Aston Martin before Mercedes, with their heavily revised W14, took over at the Spanish Grand Prix with the Brackley squad recording its first podium double of the championship.

But two races later it was McLaren who overhauled Mercedes before Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri qualified P2 and P3 at the British Grand Prix and would’ve finished as such were it not for a fortuitous Safety Car leapfrogging Lewis Hamilton ahead of Piastri.

The race may have marked Mercedes third visit to the podium in four races but it was evident to all in attendance at Silverstone that McLaren had the quicker car in both qualifying and the race.

“The order is fluctuating almost every weekend,” accepted Wolff. “We need to keep adding performance if we are to close the gap to the front and fight for victories.

“Several teams have made big gains recently. This has brought some into the fight with us, especially McLaren. It has been impressive and gives us encouragement that we can also continue to find gains.

“We relish that challenge and will bring our own steps in due course.”

Wolff has promised his drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell that more upgrades will be forthcoming as Mercedes look to enter the second part of the season more on the up than the down.

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“We head to Hungary looking forward to tackling the double-header before the summer shutdown,” said the Austrian. “It has been an up-and-down first half of the year, but we can take several positives.

“At Silverstone, we outscored our closest competitors. We executed well on race day. We were able to race to the podium and extend our P2 advantage in the championship.

“The Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite different in nature to Silverstone. It will be interesting to explore how our latest upgrades perform in the long-radius, slow-speed corners”, said Wolff.

“We have good memories from Hungary last year, with George’s first pole position in F1 and a double podium for the Team. This race also marks a decade since Lewis’ first win with us, so it’s a circuit full of good memories.

“Hopefully we can have another strong showing this time out. We want to build on the positive momentum from Silverstone, and take the fight to our rivals.”

Mercedes are P2 in the championship, 22 points ahead of Aston Martin.

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