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Mercedes “surprised” by recent McLaren pace

Mercedes “surprised” by recent McLaren pace

F1 News

Mercedes “surprised” by recent McLaren pace

Mercedes “surprised” by recent McLaren pace

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has conceded to being “surprised” at McLaren's recent turn of pace that dropped the reigning champions into the clutches of its customer team in Austria recently.

McLaren has returned to Mercedes engines this season after a relatively fallow time with Honda and, more recently, Renault, and it has quickly gained form as the team has already taken more podiums this season than in any other since 2012.

In the Austrian Grand Prix last time out, Lando Norris qualified on the front row ahead of both Mercedes and went on to finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton, albeit the seven-time champion was hampered by floor damage.

Despite that, Shovlin said: “It was a surprise to see Lando in the shoot-out for pole, he was awfully close to getting pole.

“They [McLaren] have clearly been progressing. We know that any deficit isn’t on the power unit side, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them as strong as they were.

“Even in the race, we were racing them, whereas the previous week [also in Austria] they were doing their own thing and we got through them rather quickly and there was a big gap.”

Hamilton back on the sim

Lewis Hamilton was back on the team’s race simulator in Brackley between the two Austrian races in a determined bid to cling onto his long-held reign as champion this season.

The British driver managed to find some gains through set-up changes but Shovlin explained: “We migrated it a fair bit again, Lewis was back in the simulator again doing some more work and it seemed like a useful direction.

“It may be that we’ve improved the car, the problem is everyone’s looking at what they saw in the first week and improving it for the second. It doesn’t feel like we’ve made any relative progress.

“Some interesting direction, and we did get the balance around the lap a bit better, but it doesn’t look like we’ve found tenths of performance, so there’s still that gap and on [the soft] we seemed further off than we were on the medium.”

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