Michael: McLaren progress masked in Canada

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Sam Michael has called McLaren’s Canadian Grand Prix weekend “brutal”, but the team’s sporting director believes that the progress which has been made was masked across the course of the race.

The race saw McLaren’s record run of 64 consecutive grands prix in the points come to an end as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button could only finish 11th and 12th respectively, yet Michael is confident that the team will be more competitive in Silverstone.

“It was a brutal weekend for the team. To be lapped by the top cars, that is probably the most important thing for us to concentrate on. We are still developing the car and it is responding, just not as fast as we had hoped,” he explained to Sky Sports.

“I think the picture of Montreal was painted blacker than what it probably is as we have made progress over the last number of races and I think for Silverstone our thoughts are that we will definitely be more competitive than what we were in Montreal.”

McLaren’s start to the season has been difficult, currently lying 7th in the constructors’ championship behind Force India as both of their drivers have struggled to get used to the MP4-28 car. However, Sergio Perez’s form has been impressive in places, challenging his world champion-teammate (sometimes a little too much) and he was unlucky not to finish in the top five at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”