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Formula 1

Hamilton urging Mercedes to heed McLaren ‘wake-up call’

by Josh Suttill, Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Lewis Hamilton says McLaren’s sensational British Grand Prix qualifying is a “wake-up call” to Mercedes but says its pace is no surprise as it “looks very similar down the side” to the Red Bull.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri qualified the upgraded McLaren second and third at Silverstone ahead of the Ferraris, Mercedes and Aston Martin cars that have usually been fighting for second-best behind Red Bull so far this year.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Hamilton were only sixth and seventh in qualifying, one week on from both being comprehensively beaten by Norris in the Austrian GP.

Austria marked the debut of 50% of McLaren’s significant upgrade, one that attempted to course-correct a dire start to 2023 and pivot it far closer to the concept used to great success by Red Bull’s all-conquering RB19.

The upgrade was only initially on Norris’s car but Piastri received the upgrade at Silverstone and the next 25% of the upgrade debuted on Norris’s car this weekend including a new front wing, something that will appear later on Piastri’s car when enough copies are available.

McLaren’s upturn in pace comes as no surprise to Hamilton given the nature of its upgrades.

McLaren F1 sidepod comparison

“Not surprised, if you look at the car it makes sense and I’m really happy for them,” Hamilton, who won his first F1 title with McLaren, said.

“They’ve had such a bad run for so long, so for them to be back up there is great to see.”

Asked what he meant by “similar car”, Hamilton replied that “if you just put it alongside a Red Bull it looks very similar down the side and it’s working”.

He continued: “Great to now have another team up in the mix, which is what we want to see in the sport.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was asked for his thoughts on Hamilton’s ‘similar car’ comments.

“From what you see from the outside, which is obviously only half the information, is that the car looks like a Red Bull,” Wolff said.

Red Bull McLaren F1 British GP

“And to be honest, it doesn’t matter because only the stopwatch counts. And this is what I guess Lewis was referring to. This kind of design seems to be a good direction. But this is easier said than done.

“I think each of us had bodywork that looked like the Red Bull in the tunnel, and it didn’t come up in performance.

“So you’ve got to leave no stone unturned and maybe look at it again, because another team just found a second in performance.”

Wolff added that you “have to take your hat off” to McLaren for the performance gains it has found.

“It is quite weird how that fluctuates because you would have said for a long time into the season that Aston Martin was the second force and probably our biggest competitor, obviously [same] with Ferrari,” Wolff said.

“And then suddenly we have McLaren in the mix in Austria. Clearly one car had the upgrade. And was very fast. Today, both cars have the upgrade, and they’re second and third on the grid.

“So yeah, absolutely. Seems like they have made a massive step in understanding and performance.”

Hamilton expects the deficit to McLaren “will be the same tomorrow” as it was in Austria and isn’t hopeful of overcoming them on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes McLaren F1 British GP


“It’s not a blow, it’s just a wake-up call for us, McLaren have overtaken us and we need to do more,” Hamilton conceded.

Mercedes’ hopes of overhauling Red Bull coming into 2023 were quickly deflated when it became clear its initial concept was never going to produce the theoretical performance it promised.

The team also pivoted its own concept far closer to Red Bull’s with a significant upgrade at the Monaco GP – originally scheduled for the cancelled Imola round a weekend before – and has added to it since, including at Silverstone with a new front wing.

Hamilton’s team-mate Russell said he was “exceptionally surprised” by McLaren and hailed the “amazing job” that it’s done.

“Not too sure where all of that performance has come from, even last weekend,” he added.

“And their race pace was fast, that’s going to be the interesting one tomorrow because you often see teams [being] quick on a Saturday and go backwards on a Sunday.

“I have a sneaky feeling that won’t necessarily be the case with McLaren. We have a fight on our hands.”

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