Huge Lance Stroll claim as Mercedes find sudden pace boost – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane. Silverstone July 2023. F1 news

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton heads into his pit box during free practice. Silverstone July 2023.

It has been a busy day once again in the world of Formula 1 as we quickly approach the Belgian Grand Prix.

But before we arrive at Spa-Francorchamps, Mercedes have cast their mind back to Hungary for an explanation on their huge pace gain towards the end of that race, having struggled, Lewis Hamilton in particular, for much of the Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll meanwhile would have loved a similar sudden shot of pace in the Aston Martin as they struggle to keep pace in the ‘best of the rest’ battle, but at least he has been crowned the “great pay driver of all time”. That will cheer him up, right?

Let us bring you up to speed with all of this and further major talking points from the day in Formula 1…

Mercedes lost their cool in Hungary

We do not mean Wolff’s fist smash on the desk after George Russell’s Q1 exit, we mean literally Mercedes struggled to cool the W14 during the Hungarian GP.

So, as Hamilton was asking if Mercedes turned his engine down when he was haemorrhaging time against McLaren, actually it turns out this was happening as he was being forced to lift and coast to cool the power unit.

But, once Mercedes finally got temperatures under control later in the race, Hamilton and Russell were unleashed.

Asked as part of Mercedes’ Hungarian GP debrief why the W14 was fast at the end of the race but not the start, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “We had one issue where the way that we predicted the cooling had meant that we were undercooled, so we are investigating why that wasn’t in line with expectation.

Read more: Mercedes explain sudden W14 pace surge at the end of Hungarian Grand Prix

Mercedes bringing upgrades to Spa

When the reins were off the W14 then, the challenger was strong around the Hungaroring, with team boss Wolff going as far as to state his belief that they had the second-fastest car.

And Mercedes will be hoping to reclaim that status as they head to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix, where the next stage of developments for the W14 will arrive.

“We will be bringing updates this weekend as part of our ongoing development programme,” said Wolff. “We hope this will be another small step forward in improving the W14.”

Read more: Spa boost for Mercedes as Toto Wolff reveals upgrade plan recommends

F1 points all-time rankings: Where do Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso feature?

F1 Driver of the Day: Who has won the award in F1 2023?

Lance Stroll the king of pay drivers?

That is the view of Formula 1 commentator Peter Windsor, but perhaps not for the reason that may instantly come to mind.

Instead, Windsor makes that comment based on the fact that Lawrence Stroll’s push to get his son Lance onto the grid has resulted in the return of the Aston Martin name to Formula 1 and the creation of many jobs within the team.

And as for the traditional sense of the term, Windsor argues Stroll is far from the first driver to have fallen back on a big chunk of cash to benefit his Formula 1 career.

Appearing via a recent YouTube stream, he said: “You could argue that Lance Stroll is the greatest pay driver of all time because, yes, he’s there because his dad is paying all the bills, but at least his dad has gone out and created a new team out of an old one, Aston Martin.

Read more: Lance Stroll declared ‘the greatest pay driver of all time’ in F1

Sergio Perez defiant in face of criticism

While Perez earned the praise of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner for a strong recovery drive to the podium in Hungary, the fact that he needed to pull off another at the wheel of the RB19, an untouchable car in the hands of team-mate Max Verstappen, means criticism over his performances continues to rumble on.

Perez though is the third team-mate of Verstappen’s after Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, to struggle to contend with the level of performance which Verstappen is unleashing.

But, as the speculation linking Daniel Ricciardo to his seat continues, with Albon said to also be back on Red Bull’s radar, Perez warned that the majority of drivers would struggle to lay a glove on Verstappen.

“90% of the drivers would sink next to Verstappen,” he told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo. “If you are not mentally strong, you can’t be at Red Bull. You should not underestimate the level of pressure you are under here.”

Read more – Sergio Perez defiant: ‘90% of drivers would sink next to Max Verstappen’

McLaren have a plan to keep Lando Norris

Another driver who has caught Red Bull’s eye in the past is Norris, and until recently, there was plenty of talk regarding his future as McLaren struggled to live up to their talk of progress.

This sudden surge though in the upgraded MCL60 has hushed the Norris exit talk, and so McLaren are succeeding in the plan they have to ensure that Norris remains committed to this project.

“I think the way you keep him is to give him a good race car,” Brown told Sky Sports F1 after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Read more: McLaren reveal Lando Norris plan to stop rival team poaching him away

Read next: Why Daniel Ricciardo is ‘one the last guys’ Nico Rosberg likes to see