Fernando Alonso has suggested McLaren's task of battling in the midfield isn't being helped by having to compete against "three Ferrari teams".
The Woking-based outfit has endured a difficult summer with racing director Eric Boullier resigning ahead of the British Grand Prix this week and CEO Zak Brown suggesting it could be up to a decade before the team is back competing at the front.
But for all the turmoil that has been going on within, the performance of their midfield rivals is also surprising many with Haas the fourth fastest team for the past two races and Sauber making big strides, thanks in part to their starlet Charles Leclerc.
However, one thing both teams have in common is close ties to Ferrari, with Haas effectively buying all that they can as a customer team from the Scuderia and Sauber enjoying closer ties via their new-for-2018 partner Alfa Romeo.
At the start of the year, when the American team upset the pecking order in Australia, Alonso claimed their VF-18 was effectively a "Ferrari replica" and that view hasn't changed with Sauber now included.
“I say that like everyone says that. In Australia, I said something about the Haas and it seems that only Alonso said something about the Haas,” he told RaceFans.
“It’s not simply that Haas and Sauber are now ahead of the midfield group, they benefit, definitely, [from] some of the experience Ferrari has."
Despite what might be considered reservations by some, the double world champion actually welcomes the competition that those teams present.
“It’s good for Formula 1 and for them that with the small budgets or less resources they are still being competitive,” he said.
“We don’t see the Sauber we saw in the last couple of years. This is more the Sauber we saw with [Sergio] Perez and [Kamui] Kobayashi in 2012.
“Sergio was doing a couple of podiums, I don’t know if this year it will be possible to do a podium or not with the Sauber but definitely they are going in the right direction.”
On Sunday at Silverstone though, after both Haas' and Leclerc had qualified in the top 10, an incident between Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean at the start would drop them down the field before the Monegasque retired with a loose wheel after his pit-stop.
That allowed the Spaniard to take advantage and score points for the seventh time this season.
“Starting P13 and finishing P8 is great for us,” he declared.
“Extremely happy, it has been a hard day on track and a lot of Safety Cars that mixed things a bit.
“We decided to stop for yellow [Soft] tyres for the end and it was a great advantage compared to the people we were fighting around on the old Medium and old blue [Hard] tyres.
“We could overtake a couple of cars and had some battles with Kevin [Magnussen] that probably slowed us a little bit too much, our recovery."News Now - Sport News