Eight rounds into the 2021 campaign, no one’s wildest dreams could have anticipated such a tight battle at the top. Winning the last four races, Red Bull has clearly emerged as the fastest car. On the other hand, Mercedes has not gotten to the highest step of the podium since the Spanish GP earlier in May.
In light of a very hard-fought Championship, Red Bull has been trying its best to continuously bring upgrades, making steps with both its aerodynamic package and its Honda PU. The reward was the team's dominance at its home circuit on Sunday and an 18-point lead in the drivers' championship for Max Verstappen.
Last weekend, stepping out of his car – once again, behind Max Verstappen – Lewis Hamilton admitted that Mercedes needs to close the gap with their rivals.
"We need an upgrade of some sort, we need to push ... we've got to find some performance from somewhere”
However, listening to team boss Toto Wolff and according to Hamilton himself, that upgrade was not planned.
“We would love an upgrade, but I don’t think it’s in the pipeline at the moment,” Hamilton suggested on Sunday.
Over the last couple of days, coming into the final race of the first triple-header of the season, Mercedes’ chief technical officer James Allison confirmed the team does have new parts coming for the W12. Today, during the FIA press conference at the Red Bull Ring, which will host the Austrian Grand Prix during the weekend, Hamilton admitted:
“I knew that we had that upgrade coming, at the end of the day everyone is working absolutely flat-out. We’re learning more and more about this car.
“We’re discovering more things – where we need to push more and extract more and I have all the confidence in the team that we will do over time.”
At last weekend’s race, Mercedes ran some trials with what they called a “wacky” set-up direction, a configuration resulting from word Hamilton did in the team’s simulator. While admitting he never relishes simulator work, the Briton is “necessarily enjoying it” at the moment.
Indeed, “particularly after those few difficult races we had” – including the race in Monaco and the disgraceful Baku GP – “I went in to try and see if there’s any way I can try and help the team be better prepared,” Hamilton added.
“I think there’s been a couple of good things from it [simulator work]. Not life-changing but I’ll continue to work with it. We’ve got drivers in there who do a lot of work, just working on the processes of how we communicate with them on their programme so we’re getting the right things tested. So I think overall it’s been positive.”
Seven-time World Champion added he isn’t concerned about the title situation. Indeed, despite sitting second with 18-points less than his main competitor, Hamilton is still confident in his team’s ability to improve over the remaining part of the season.
“We’re all pushing as hard as we can. Of course, we’d love to have more pace at the moment to be able to really challenge not only within qualifying but the race.
“Obviously they’re continuing to take steps forward. But I can’t get tied up and get into that negative bubble of worrying. All I can do right now is put all that energy into making sure I’m best prepared, helping the engineers be better prepared, lots of great conversations.