George Russell believes the recent resurgence from the McLaren F1 Team has made them genuine contenders to be the second fastest team this season, but it also gives his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team hope that they are still big gains to be found with its own development programme.
McLaren introduced a new aerodynamic package ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix in June, and since then, the team have scored two podium finishes with Lando Norris at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, while rookie Oscar Piastri has finished inside the top five in the same two events.
Mercedes secured their first pole position of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with Lewis Hamilton in Hungary last weekend, while Russell proved the pace of the W14 by moving from eighteenth on the grid to sixth after being compromised by traffic during Qualifying.
Russell says he would have been satisfied with the progress made by Mercedes since they introduced their own updates earlier in the season, but the gains made by McLaren have brought them firmly into the mix to be the best of the rest behind the dominant Oracle Red Bull Racing team.
“It’s absolutely clear they are true contenders for the second fastest team,” Russell is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “It’s very odd how Aston Martin were clearly that second-best at the start of the year.
“And they don’t seem to be so competitive right now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. And McLaren have made a huge jump.
So if it wasn’t for McLaren, we’d be very, very satisfied with the progress we’re making. Moving ahead of the midfield pulling a gap on our rivals, closing on Red Bull. McLaren have just totally thrown it in the mix.
“But it gives you optimism that there is potential to make bigger steps. I believe in my team. I think it gives us confidence and optimism that we can make that step to Red Bull.
“We’re not too focused really on McLaren or Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. And we’re trying to make that big step.”