Ralf Schumacher’s warning to McLaren after Silverstone surge

Michelle Foster
McLaren's Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

McLaren's Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Having finally made inroads with their upgrades for the MCL60, Ralf Schumacher has warned McLaren cannot let up now to focus on their 2024 contender.

McLaren were the stars of the British Grand Prix as, racing their more Red Bull-esque MCL60, the team built on their Austrian Grand Prix P4 to finish on the podium with Lando Norris runner-up at his home race.

With his team-mate Oscar Piastri crossing the line in fourth place, the McLaren pairing having lined up second and third on the grid, McLaren could celebrate a job well done with the team seemingly moving in the right direction.

McLaren return to the podium at the British Grand Prix

That, though, came with its own conundrum as McLaren cannot throw in the towel when there is the prospect that at this pace they could hunt down Ferrari for fourth in the championship.

But they’ll have to find a balance between developing this year’s car and designing one for next year that could potentially take the fight to Red Bull.

“At McLaren it will also be interesting to see how much resources they are still putting into this year’s car after the major upgrade and how much they are already betting on next year to perhaps be able to close the gap to Red Bull there,” Schumacher wrote in his post-race Sky Deutschland column.

“One thing is clear: the plans for 2024 are in full swing for all teams, but McLaren cannot yet put all their chips on the next car.

“They are still in the development process and for the first time they have a car that really works. In this phase, however, you have to wait a little and develop further to be sure that you are really on the right track.”

That’s in sharp contrast to Red Bull who could give up on upgrading the RB19 and focus all their attention on next year’s RB20.

“Red Bull, on the other hand,” Schumacher continued, “has the advantage that they know where to go. They can already concentrate on the coming season. Mercedes did the same thing for years. That was never a revolution, but always just an evolution.”

Red Bull are comfortably ahead in this year’s Constructors’ Championship with a 208-point lead over Mercedes while Max Verstappen is 99 ahead of Sergio Perez in the race for the World title. In fact his margin is so big he could finish P2 in all the remaining races and still win the title.

Schumacher, though, reckons the budget cap has yet to bite Red Bull although it probably won’t for a few more years to come.

“The budget cap issue will weaken Red Bull’s dominance somewhat, because people will have to leave the racing team and the new teams will benefit from this,” he said.

“Experience is more spread out in F1 and everything will be closer together, but I think there will be some Red Bull dominance up to and including 2026.”

Looking ahead to the next race on the calendar, McLaren may have overhauled Mercedes, Ferrari and the rest in Britain but the German isn’t convinced they’ll able to put in a repeat performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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In an ever-changing season in which Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes have all been P2 to Red Bull, Schumacher says the pendulum could swing again.

“It remains to be seen whether this will also be the case in the next races,” he added.

“Zak Brown was a bit cautious about the next race in Hungary. This is a full downforce track. I think that the Aston Martin will be quite good there again.

“At McLaren it will depend on what the tyre wear is like because the temperatures will be high.

“It’s generally difficult to make predictions this season because the teams have their ups and downs. The best example is Mercedes, who were doing well but looked catastrophic before at Spielberg.”

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