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Stoddie Straight: Praise for McLaren and Williams, less so for Ferrari and Mercedes

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart, hails the performances of McLaren and Williams at the British GP, but suggests there may be long faces at Mercedes and Ferrari.

Top 3 British GP 2023 Verstappen Norris Hamilton
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren and Williams were really the stars of the British Grand Prix weekend. Obviously, Max Verstappen ran away with the race, which is not surprising these days, but the interest really is from second down.

This weekend, the takeaway is definitely McLaren's upgrades. The fact that they worked in Austria probably didn't surprise everyone because it's a track that McLaren have historically done very well at.

But Silverstone really showed that they have come a long way, and they're going to be a force to be reckoned with, I think, for the rest of the year. Certainly not at every track, but certainly best of the rest.

But Williams were the other star of the weekend, certainly Alex Albon's performance, and even Logan Sergeant's performance in some of the sessions was pretty spectacular. They've moved up to seventh now in the Constructors’ Championship, which is really the best position they could possibly end up in this year. They're already there and we're not even halfway, so I think a lot of credit's due to them.

Oscar Piastri showed this weekend, probably for the first time, that he's worthy of being where he is and that he's going to be the Rookie of the Year and perform pretty spectacularly. Lando Norris is a good teammate, but he's a hard teammate, and he's well settled in at McLaren, so I think Piastri did a really good job this weekend.

Fernando Alonso is still very happy with Aston Martin and I think he’ll continue to deliver. He certainly won't get what he wanted, which was a podium at every race, but I think he'll still be up there at the end of the year in a fairly solid third place.

Mercedes were nowhere and probably would have stayed nowhere if it wasn't for the Safety Car, which elevated Lewis Hamilton to third, but I don't think their performance was good all over the weekend.

Certainly the upgrades – the new front wing didn't seem to make a lot of difference. I felt they had a difficult weekend. They need to do some soul searching. There's nothing wrong with their driver line-up. They've got good drivers. The car’s just not delivering.

We've got a very tight race between second and fourth, and then a really tight race between fourth and eighth. I think it's going to be an exciting balance of the season, if you accept the fact that Max has pretty much already won the championship.

Ferrari woes continue

Sadly for Ferrari, they just went backwards again. One has to question just how long you can keep putting up with bad performances. That’s the team I think that's in the most trouble at the moment, of the big teams. They’ve gone nowhere.

Even though there's a cost cap, the bigger teams can respond quicker and better in terms of being able to develop things. And yet with Ferrari, the one-lap pace is pretty good, in the main, but their race pace and strategy calls are still questionable, so they've got a lot of soul searching to do.

I don’t think they're going to give team boss Fred Vasseur an awful lot of time. He needs to pull something out of the hat between now and the end of the season, because if they keep performing like this, I think it'll be a revolving door at the end of the year in Maranello, and Fred probably won't be there, sadly.

For me, it was mistake to get rid of Mattia Binotto. They could have still bought Fred in and left Mattia in charge of the technical side, which he was brilliant at. Let's be honest, they had the fastest car out there a while back. And if it wasn't for the mistakes, on their strategy, and on the drivers as well, they probably would have been world champion.

But the reality is that they're not performing, and Ferrari is not a brand that can sit there and not perform. Having said that, I can’t see anyone else who's out there to take over. The good ones are already where they're going to stay, and I think they're in trouble. I wouldn't have got rid of Mattia. I’d have brought Fred in, but I’d bring Fred in to run the team, and have Mattia run the technical side.

Perez and de Vries under threat

Sergio Perez, sadly, went out too early in qualifying, and saw his lap times just go dropping all the way down until he was in 15th. Realistically, I think he's got to improve enormously if he wants to keep that seat.

He's got a contract for 2024, but contracts have been known to be broken, so he needs to do something. His race was good, but it wasn't as exceptional as he's had in the past. He didn't pass as many people.

I don't think anything's going to happen just yet. I think Red Bull will do nothing until the summer break, and I think what you need to see from both Perez and Nyck de Vries is a bit of a resilience over the next two races, because I think the one seat that's really at risk for someone change would be de Vries'.

But that won't be Daniel Ricciardo. He will not go back to Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri. I'd be very surprised to see two Australian drivers this year, unless something happens with Perez.

De Vries has got to perform. That's the thing. His performance this year has not been good. I'm not being too critical of Yuki Tsunoda, but he's not exactly got the hardest teammate in the pit lane to match.

F1 2023 British Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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