07 June 2024

Mercedes technical director feels Red Bull’s upgrade has taken them backwards

07 June 2024

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes Red Bull’s recent upgrade has taken them backwards.

Max Verstappen appeared set to cruise to a fourth consecutive drivers’ championship when he won four of the first five races of the season.

But the Dutchman has won just one of the last three – with victories for McLaren’s Lando Norris in Miami and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Monaco providing hope of a genuine title challenge this season.

Red Bull brought an upgraded package to Imola – where Verstappen won – two races ago but their struggles in Monaco last time out brought about questions of their car and the Dutchman expressed doubts over their chances in Canada this weekend.

The Milton Keynes-based team won all-but one race in a season of crushing dominance in 2023 but Allison has taken hope from seeing a few chinks in their armour so far in this campaign.

“My guess is that as soon as there is a decent range of cornering speeds they (Red Bull) will be useful again,” Allison said.

“But it does look as though their upgrade was a downgrade. So fingers crossed that will really f*** them up!

“That makes life hard because as soon as you stop trusting your tools you have to backtrack and you lose loads of time and time is your biggest friend, losing it your worst enemy.

It does look as though their upgrade was a downgrade. So fingers crossed that will really f*** them up!

“Everyone always loves other people’s misery in this game!”

Mercedes are buoyed by recent progress after a tough start to the season. Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton saw signs of progress in Monaco and the seven-time world champion said on Thursday that he thought a first podium of the season was “close”.

Russell and Hamilton are seventh and eighth respectively in the drivers’ standings and Mercedes a whopping 180 points adrift of leaders Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.

But Allison thinks they are closing in on the leading pack and is hopeful a small step forward can see them competing with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

“We are not really thinking in big-picture terms. We are just thinking that where we are now appears to be somewhat better than where we were two races ago,” Allison added.

“Hopefully we will be somewhat better a couple of races from now.

“We have gone from being embarrassingly crap, not good enough, at the beginning of the year to being near the fight.

“A little bit more will get us right in the melee and that’s really the only terms I am thinking in.”

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