McLaren sporting director Sam Michael has predicted that Red Bull won't have the same kind of advantage it had in Valencia during the British Grand Prix this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel was in dominant form in Spain as he secured pole for the European Grand Prix and then led comfortably before an alternator issue forced him into retirement.
While the German was easily the man to beat prior to his issue, Michael said he didn't think the defending champion would have such an advantage at Silverstone this weekend, with McLaren expecting to perform better than they did in Spain a fortnight ago.
“It probably has got some circuit-specific nature to it,” he told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Valencia hasn't been a track where we've been very good at. If you look forward to Silverstone it's definitely more in line with where the McLaren's strengths are. However, it's clear Red Bull have taken a step forward, although I don't think it's as big as the pace that Sebastian Vettel showed in that first stint and we are hoping to correct that at Silverstone.
“But if you look back to Barcelona, we were almost six-tenths in front of them before we took the penalty. So, I think, looking at the type of track Silverstone is we could be looking for a repeat of that. We have upgrades going to Silverstone as well, as we do at every race. So we are hoping they can bring at least a tenth. So regardless of where Red Bull were in Valencia - and they were very strong - our target is to be on the front row and challenging for a win.”
Michael added that he felt Vettel's early pace in Spain was also more down to the performance of his Pirelli tyres as opposed to because of his car.
“It was impressive pace but ultimately, as we've seen throughout this year, if you get the tyres working properly and you fall into that window then you can generate enormous amounts of grip,” he said. “We've seen that probably four or five times this year. So Sebastian was certainly better on the tyres in that first stint. I think it was reflective of that rather than the car.”