McLaren gains show what in-season development can do – Wolff

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Toto Wolff believes the major gains made by McLaren over the past few races are exciting for Mercedes because it shows what is possible during as season.

McLaren brought a major update to the Austrian Grand Prix and further added to it at Silverstone, where Lando Norris followed up a fourth place at the Red Bull Ring with second at his home race. Oscar Piastri ended up fourth on Sunday having qualified third.

“I think we’ve seen that major step that Aston Martin was able to bring, and now McLaren,” Wolff said. “We have been fighting with the car since a year and a half, trying to do performance but it’s just chipping away at those small gains, rather than to do such a step.

“But I really see the positives, because fundamentally I don’t care whether we finish second or third. It’s important to find our way back to fighting for victories and the world championship. And while podiums make us really happy to see that the car has potential, fundamentally all eyes are on the big prize and that’s why it’s exciting to see that McLaren was able to find a second.

“Why it is exciting to see the McLaren bounce back is that you can within a season. Fair enough, they had much more wind tunnel time, but in any case, coming with upgrades which completely changed the performance of the car.

“We are not talking about two tenths up and down, but we are talking about a second. And that’s good for the sport, that if you do the right things and put things together — we’ve seen it with the Aston Martin year-to-year, we’ve seen it with the McLaren now during the year, and I like it.”

Although Wolff acknowledges Mercedes doesn’t have as much aerodynamic testing freedom as McLaren, he also says Mercedes can target such a major gain if it changes its approach in future.

“I think we are restricted by the cost cap and by the relative less amount in wind tunnel and CFD time that McLaren was able to have. They finished further back in the championship and they were like fifth or sixth mid-year. So they carried over that more wind tunnel time allocation. And that’s why it’s kind of difficult.

“Do I believe that we have upgrades in there that are going to fundamentally change the car? I don’t believe so. But we have a few small steps that are to come. And you can see that if you find the tenth or two or three, it puts you in a different position on the grid. But yeah, I think we can do that step.”