Pundit points to the silver lining for Mercedes after their loss to McLaren

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton inspects the McLaren after the race. Silverstone July 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton looks at Lando Norris' McLaren after finishing the race. Silverstone July 2023.

As questions are once again asked about Mercedes’ car in light of McLaren’s surge at Silverstone, Sam Bird insists it’s not all “doom and gloom”, they are after all still P2 in the championship.

Putting a B-spec W14 on the track at the Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes made the call earlier this season to drop their zero-pod design but their new solution was by no means a copy of the RB19’s downwash sidepods.

On the podium at the Spanish and Canadian races, Mercedes were applauded for taking a leap forward but it’s one that stuttered at the Austrian Grand Prix.

‘It’s not like Mercedes are sixth in the championship, they’re second’

Off the pace that weekend while Lando Norris finished fourth with his new-look McLaren MCL60 that sported downwash philosophy sidepods, Mercedes again lost to McLaren at the British Grand Prix.

Elevated up the order by the fortuitous timing of the Safety Car, neither Lewis Hamilton nor George Russell were able to get the better of the McLaren driver each had running ahead of him despite having soft tyres to the McLaren team-mates’ hards in the final stint.

Norris brought his car home in second place to Hamilton’s P3 while Russell was fifth behind Oscar Piastri.

That saw Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, once again, drawn into answering whether or not Mercedes will now accept the Red Bull sidepods are the way to go with the Austrian conceding that “maybe” that is the way to go.

But as Mercedes wrap up their examination of their British Grand Prix weekend, Formula E driver Bird says the Brackley squad is not a team in crisis.

“Mercedes have got some work to do. Let’s not beat around the bush, they’re not where they want to be,” he said on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

“But at the same time, I was speaking to Bradley Lord at Mercedes [team’s communication manager] and he said, ‘Sam remember, and everybody should remember, we are second in the World Championship right now’.

“So yeah, they’re not where they want to be but they’re only one place off where they want to be. Okay, Red Bull are a long way ahead but it’s not all doom and gloom.

“But it is true, right? It’s not like they’re sixth in the World Championship, they’re second. There’s a lot of room for improvement but they’re one off where they want to be.”

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P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes trail Red Bull by 208 points while Hamilton is P4 in the Drivers’ standings with Russell in sixth place.

According to Hamilton, the team is well aware of the W14’s strengths and also its weaknesses with the Briton saying the time has come for some “serious conversations” about where they go next with the car’s design.

“The weekend was a reality check for us, I think,” Hamilton said after the race. ” And I think we need to have serious conversations back in the factory.

“For us drivers in the car, we can feel… There are some strengths, our long run pace for example, but there are some serious weaknesses within the car. And the proof is in what McLaren have done.”

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