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'McLaren must continue to make errors or it will never beat Red Bull'

McLaren's strategy calls in the British Grand Prix were part of a recent trend of mistakes - but that is fine as the team adjusts to its new position in the pecking order, argues Jake Nichol.

Norris race Silverstone
To news overview © XPBimages

As McLaren licked its raw wounds in the aftermath of the British Grand Prix, its current situation was perhaps best summed up by Oscar Piastri. 

"We've got the hardest part nailed, we've got an incredibly quick car," the Australian told media including RacingNews365. 

"We just need to capitalise on it."

Indeed, since the upgrade introduced in Miami seven races ago, the MCL38 has arguably been the fastest car in F1, eclipsing the mighty Red Bull. The team, however, only has a solitary win to show for its efforts - through Lando Norris in Miami, which was aided, in part, by a fortuitous safety car.

Since then, there has been a catalogue of strategy faux pas, driver mistakes and collisions that should have been avoided as McLaren tries to take the fight in the constructors' championship to the one-armed Red Bull. 

When Sergio Perez's slump in form began at Imola, McLaren was 114 points behind Red Bull, and with Perez only scoring 11 points since, that gap has now reduced to 78.

Certainly by no means is the fight off for McLaren, but given the pace of the MCL38 and opportunities presented, it should have at least halved the gap by now at the half-way mark of the season.

It is not even second in the standings, just five points behind Ferrari, although given how the Scuderia's form has nosedived since Monaco, the places will likely swap in Hungary. 

The mistakes McLaren made at Silverstone in not double-stacking Piastri and then giving Norris the soft tyres instead of the fresh mediums it had saved for just the scenario that was unfolding are painful, yes, but part of the steep learning curve this team is on. 

McLaren is on the right path

 McLaren wants to fight for titles again, it has to make these mistakes to learn and bank the knowledge of what not to do. 

Although McLaren is one of the most successful teams in F1 history, it must, in its current guise be considered a new team. 

Let us not forget that just six years ago, this was a team at rock-bottom with an underperforming technical department, devoid of sponsors and listing wonderlessly on the F1 ocean. It was an oil-tanker that was taking an age to stop drifting before Zak Brown could turn the dire situation around. 

But the CEO has done exactly that. The technical department is now exciting, the car is full of sponsors and McLaren is now racing in IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and has a devoted following of fans with two of the most exciting grand prix drivers of the next generation in the cars.

It has class-leading Mercedes power units and has been able to recruit the likes of key Adrian Newey lieutenant Rob Marshall from Red Bull, but it is not a race-sharp operation just yet. 

Years of toiling away in the lower midfield, or in more recent times, snipping for the odd podium here and there can mask mistakes in strategy and trackside operations. 

When you are fighting over P5 and P6, nobody is going to notice those mistakes, but when you are leading the British Grand Prix one-two and do not double-stack your drivers and then put one on the wrong tyre later on, it is magnified and the world soon knows about it. 

When you are going up against teams that are as razor-sharp as Mercedes and Red Bull in trackside operations, you must be perfect.

Red Bull spent the Mercedes domination years crafting itself into a 99.9% bullet-proof race team. There is a reason why its pit crew has been the best over the past few seasons, and why the strategies of Hannah Schmitz are always on point. 

It is because Red Bull has, in effect, paid its dues with Christian Horner and Jonathan Wheatley running an extremely tight ship.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Mistakes have to be made

That is not to say that McLaren is lacking know-how. Race engineers Tom Stallard (Piastri) and Will Joseph (Norris) have also worked with the likes of Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. 

Team principal Andrea Stella has worked with Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen.

The knowledge is there for McLaren, the key technical and trackside operations team are no mugs and know what they are doing - but this guise of McLaren is a young team. 

It is yet to be consistently tested in the white-hot environment that is the pressure cooker of elite sport. 

It will be stronger for these mistakes and blunders, but like any good race team, you do not get better without making mistakes. 

And to make the type of mistakes you will learn from, you have to be tested by the very, very best - which is what Mercedes and Red Bull are.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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