Five seconds down on Max Verstappen in Qatar, Aston Martin’s Jessica Hawkins feels Red Bull are “quite lucky” it’s taken McLaren this long to get it right.
From a six-stop strategy and major concerns at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, McLaren’s mid-season fightback has been a beauty to behold.
Introducing a B-spec car that was more in line with the RB19 philosophy in Austria before another big upgrade in Singapore, it is estimated that McLaren have shaved a second off the MCL60’s lap times.
McLaren have outscored Red Bull by 104 to 73 in the last three races
And it is showing in the results.
McLaren have outscored everyone barring Red Bull since the summer break while in the last three races, capitalising on Sergio Perez’s latest slump, they’ve actually outscored Red Bull by 104 points to 73.
Recording five podiums in those three races, and the victory in Qatar’s Sprint race, McLaren are second on the track with only Verstappen ahead.
It has Aston Martin’s driver ambassador Hawkins declaring Red Bull are “lucky” the McLaren resurgence took “this long” to gain momentum.
“I think that actually Red Bull are quite lucky that it’s taken McLaren this long,” Hawkins told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Because at the moment McLaren are doing a very, very good job.”
Such a good job, in fact, that Aston Martin could yet lose fourth place in the Constructors’ standings as they’re only 11 points ahead of McLaren.
They’d dropped 82 points to McLaren since the summer break with Hawkins conceding: “They’re quickly catching us as well, which isn’t great for us, but we will keep pushing.”
She added: “We are well aware they are coming, and we can see them. We are still pushing as hard as we can for fourth, and we do have a couple of upgrades on the way.
“But if fifth is what it is, we are still very aware that is still a massive step forward than what it was from last year. So morale is high, albeit fourth or fifth, but we are still very much pushing for fourth.”
However, F1 Nation host Tom Clarkson says such is McLaren’s form they shouldn’t limit themselves to taking fourth off Aston Martin, they should focus on chasing down Ferrari for third.
That gap is 79 points with the bulk of Ferrari’s points since the break coming from Carlos Sainz’s Singapore GP victory and his P3 at Monza. In the two races since Singapore, McLaren have outscored Ferrari by 47 points.
“I think they need to be even more ambitious than fourth,” said Clarkson. “I think they should be aiming at Ferrari in third. They’re 79 points behind Ferrari, five races to go, two of those [with] a sprint, I think it’s achievable.
“I mean, Ferrari shot themselves in the foot a little bit here with Carlos Sainz not being able to start but McLaren are just on a roll at the moment. Just look at the pitstop, 1.8 seconds! Everything seems to be clicking.
“Christian Horner talks about Red Bull just everything in the business, he refers to the business, everything in the business is working in harmony is how he describes Red Bull.
“I think we’re not far off being able to talk in similar terms about McLaren.”