Mercedes was surprised by McLaren’s pace at the Austrian GP

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says the team was surprised to see Lando Norris “in the shoot-out for pole” at the Austrian Grand Prix.

In 2021 McLaren is once again using Mercedes engines, but at the Austrian Grand Prix, it seemed their overall package was working better than that of the works team.

This was evident when Lando Norris managed to qualify in P2, while Mercedes wasn’t able to crack the top 3.

“It was a surprise to see Lando in the shoot-out for pole, he was awfully close to getting pole,” Shovlin said.

“They have clearly been progressing. We know that any deficit isn’t on the power unit side, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them as strong as they were.

“Even in the race, we were racing them, whereas the previous week [also on the Red Bull Ring] they were doing their own thing and we got through them rather quickly and there was a big gap.”

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Shovlin says Mercedes has been able to make some improvements between two Austrian races, but it wasn’t enough.

“We migrated it a fair bit again, Lewis was back in the simulator again doing some more work and it seemed like a useful direction.

“It may be that we’ve improved the car, the problem is everyone’s looking at what they saw in the first week and improving it for the second. It doesn’t feel like we’ve made any relative progress.

“Some interesting direction, and we did get the balance around the lap a bit better, but it doesn’t look like we’ve found tenths of performance.

“So there’s still that gap and on [the soft] we seemed further off than we were on the medium,” concluded the Briton.

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