The first race of the season proved to be a big disappointment for McLaren, as in addition to the performance problems, there were also problems in terms of reliability, different from those encountered in testing. If during the pre-season tests the team from Woking had been slowed down by problems in the front area of the single-seater, in Sakhir the two drivers were slowed down by electrical problems for Oscar Piastri and tire pressure problems for Lando Norris.
Before the start of the world championship, McLaren’s top management had proved to be very frank in confirming that the MCL60 seen at the presentation had not reached the pre-established competitiveness targets, with serious shortcomings in terms of aerodynamic load which were later revealed in Bahrain.
For Piastri, the first weekend ended only after a few laps, with a few laps completed by a driver who, on the contrary, should complete as many kilometers as possible being in his first year in the category.
Notwithstanding the difficult moment that the Woking team is experiencing, the Australian still tried to draw the positive aspects from the Sakhir round, highlighting a potential that could further improve when the first updates arrive in Baku: “Obviously Bahrain is not been the weekend we wanted. On paper it doesn’t look like much. But there is certainly something positive to be drawn from the race weekend as a whole.”
“As far as I’m concerned, the race had gone reasonably well up until that point (of my retirement). In qualifying I made few mistakes, but with such a compact midfield group, Lando showed that we can be on the edge of the points or in the fight for points. In the race, unfortunately, we both had some problems”.
“We know where the problems are and have fixed them, we hope. Even without these problems we would like to be further ahead. But we have a good development plan,” said the McLaren driver.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
With an Alpine team that still seems to be fighting for the upper midfield area, the question arose spontaneously, i.e. whether Piastri could have any regrets in having preferred the British team to the transalpine one, in an affair that created various discontents for how it was worn out.
However, the Australian wanted to underline how, right from the start, it wasn’t a matter of a choice, rather a confirmation of the sensations felt around him. At the time, in fact, Alpine was still in negotiations for the renewal of Fernando Alonso, while McLaren had bet strongly on the young talent, convincing him to embark on a new adventure.
“For me it was never a decision between two teams. It never came to this. The rest of the details were obviously very clear and were repeated several times.”
“But it was clear to me that I wanted to join McLaren, with the passion they have shown for having me in the team, and that was a very, very important factor. So I don’t see it in the same light. But of course I’m very focused on my current position and trying to help the team progress and get back to where we want to be,” added Piastri.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
For the appointment in Saudi Arabia, the Melbourne driver is convinced that the characteristics of the Saudi track can better adapt to those of the MCL60, especially due to the high number of fast corners. A touch of confidence and optimism, held back by the reality of still having to go down the track.
“We know what our problems are, which I think is half the battle sometimes. In Bahrain we seemed to be reasonably good in the high speed corners. So maybe we’ll be fine here, but I’m not 100% sure. We will see. We are clear where we need to improve. Now it’s just a matter of putting the necessary steps in place and working towards making them happen.”
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