Silver Arrows’ Sunday

“It’s not over, until it’s over.’

Those were the words of Mercedes driver George Russell, as he spoke with his team just moments after taking the checkered flag at the Austrian Grand Prix in stunning fashion. One might be excused for believing there was some bewilderment behind Russell’s comment, given how the race stood just minutes prior. Russell was running in third, behind the climactic fight between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, but he kept himself in striking distance, giving himself a chance to capitalize if something happened at the front.

Something did happen, a collision between Norris and Verstappen that ended the McLaren driver’s day and saw Verstappen limp back to the pits with a puncture of his own. The door was open for Russell, and the British driver barged through, capturing the second Grand Prix win of his Formula 1 career, and the first for Mercedes this season.

“It was a tough fight out there at the beginning of the race,” said Russell to David Coulthard trackside immediately following his stunning victory. “The team has worked so hard, we’ve made so many strides since the start of the season. The last three races have been incredible, and there’s more to come … what an exciting time for us.”

Indeed it is an exciting time for the Silver Arrows. Mercedes struggled out of the gate this season, and arrived in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix just a few short weeks ago languishing in fourth place in the F1 Constructors’ Championship standings.

They were a staggering 180 points behind first-place Red Bull, and 156 points behind Ferrari.

But then came signs of life. The first signs came at the Canadian Grand Prix when Russell captured pole position, and while he could not hold off at the front of the race he secured the team’s first Grand Prix podium of the year with a third-place finish, to go with a second place from Lewis Hamilton in the F1 Sprint Race at the Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton matched Russell’s P3 with one of his own in Barcelona.

Then came Sunday.

With Russell’s win and a fourth-place finish from Lewis Hamilton — along with their results from Saturday’s F1 Sprint Race — Mercedes banked another 45 points in the standings. Making them the hottest team on the grid over those three race weekends.

Here is what the teams at the top of the grid have done over this period:

Red Bull: 79
McLaren: 84
Ferrari: 39
Mercedes: 100

That has seen Mercedes cut not only into Red Bull’s lead over them, but pull to within 95 points of Ferrari up in second place.

A stunning turnaround for the Silver Arrows.

“Incredible! That’s the only way I can describe it. We had a tough fight in the early stages to make sure we held on to P3. That would prove crucial at the end,” said Norris in the team’s post-race report. “I could see that Max [Verstappen] and Lando [Norris] were having a big battle. We were only just over ten seconds behind the pair of them, which is really encouraging pace-wise.

“I knew there was a possibility that they could come together, even if it was only a slim chance. You have to be there at the end to pick up the pieces and that’s exactly where we were. I am so proud to be back on the top step of the podium.”

“It is a great feeling to get back on to the top step of the podium. It is a fantastic reward for the hard work and efforts of everyone at Brackley and Brixworth. We have taken good steps forward in recent races, and we are excited about what is still to come,” described Team Principal Toto Wolff. “We knew our outright pace today wouldn’t quite be enough to challenge for victory. We therefore made sure we [maximized] our race and were able to pick up the pieces, should anything happen. We enjoyed some good fortune but that is motor racing.”

On the other side of the garage Hamilton — whose fourth-place finish added another 12 points to that tally for the team — hailed the effort these past few weeks from the entire organization.

“Congratulations to George and the team. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth really deserves this result,” offered Hamilton. “They have worked so hard to bring performance to the car and we are starting to get us closer and closer to the very front. We put in so much effort so to get a result like this is a well-deserved reward for everyone’s efforts.”

The grid now shifts home for Mercedes, for next weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. While the fight at the front — and the collision between Norris and Verstappen that opened the door for Russell in the first place — will likely dominate the headlines the surge from Mercedes is absolutely worthy of note.

A year ago it was McLaren who pulled off a surge of their own, rocketing up the Constructors’ Championship to ultimately finish fourth. Their turnaround showed its first signs of life in Austria, where Russell just captured Mercedes’ first win of the season.

The Silver Arrows showed their own signs of a turnaround a few weeks earlier than that. So it might be fair to ask: Just how high can Mercedes climb this year?

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