Mercedes “keeping an eye” on McLaren developments

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Red Bull has made it clear who will take first place in the constructors’ standings this season, but who will take second?

Heading into the Hungarian GP, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and most recently McLaren look to be the contenders to be the best of the rest. Until the Canadian GP, the Woking-based team had not shown much this season, but they have captured the attention of the public and the rest of the grid with strong results in Austria and an outstanding performances at Silverstone.

But Mercedes is not going to be left behind, as James Allison, the team’s technical director, has made it clear that the Brackley-based team has the potential to be up to the task and have a consistent second place at all circuits by bringing more updates to the W14 while trying to balance it for 2024.

Allison also admitted that Mercedes was very impressed after seeing the performance of the Andrea Stella-led team, even though he knows that both the weather and track conditions have favoured the Woking-based team in the last two races:

“We are only just round about halfway through the season and there is plenty more development to come in these cars,” Allison said. “All of the teams will be turning their attention to next year and that will defang all of us a little bit in terms of the rate of which we can improve our cars.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

“There are absolutely improvements that we would like to make on our current car that we know will also carry into next year. So it doesn’t feel like throwing good money after bad. The feeling is that you are investing in both seasons with those upgrades. For us yes, you will see the upgrades coming for a little while longer. I suspect for the others too.

“What you will get in this next sequence of races is a little bit of yo-yoing for position in a very closely packed bunch as upgrades make the difference for one team for a while, until someone else will come out of sequence with another upgrade a race or two later to even things back out. Where it will all settle down for the final quarter to one third of a season, we will see. Hopefully we will have our noses in front and be able to have a strong second half of the season.

“We keep an eye on all the teams as they upgrade. We take lots of photos and we try and figure out what changes from race to race. We note when something new or unusual comes along. The interesting and unusual thing about the McLaren upgrade is that its lap time effect is quite strong. It’s unusual to have a step of that size of relative competitiveness in the middle of a season and chapeau to them.”

The Englishman also took the opportunity to congratulate them on their work: “It’s unusual to have a step of that size of relative competitiveness in the middle of a season and chapeau to them.

“They’ve done a good piece of work there, but that also makes it interesting for us because we have the before and after shots and we know the lap time effect was big. So it’s well worth us paying more attention than we normally might to another competitor team’s upgrade because in this case, we know that whatever changed has made a meaningful difference to their lap time. It’s quite useful for us to know what that was and see whether it can play into our own thoughts of developing our own car.”