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Mixed fortunes at McLaren

NEWS STORY
19/03/2023

As Oscar Piastri revels in the fact that he is getting more comfortable with the MCL60, teammate Lando Norris admits to letting the team down.

It was definitely a case of mixed fortunes for the Woking pair, for while Norris failed to make it out of Q1 after clouting the wall and damaging his steering, rookie teammate qualified ninth, and will start the race ahead of Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.

"Every time I've jumped in the car, I feel like I'm getting more and more comfortable," said Piastri, who won here (twice) in F2 when it first visited in 2021.

"I feel if you can get yourself comfortable with the car, then no matter what track you go to, it makes life easier," he continued. "From Bahrain to here, it feels like I've made a good step in being comfortable with the car, even throughout this weekend and overnight.

"Compared to Bahrain, I don't think I did anything massively different or changed anything, it's just that it all came together better and better and I made no mistakes.

"It's still incredibly tight," he admitted, "but I was just at the right end of the pack this time. I felt like I put everything together much better and it made a lot of difference.

"The difference between being in the Top 10 and being out was two-tenths," said the youngster of the unforgiving, demanding Jeddah track. "You make a small mistake, or a couple of small mistakes, and it looks like a complete disaster. You put a really good lap together and you look like a hero.

"So we've really got to tackle those really small margins, which I think we're doing a very good job of. What we did overnight really helped quite a lot. Even if it was not revolutionary. But we were much more optimistic after P3 than we were at this point last night. So just those small margins again really made a difference."

On the other side of the garage however, the mood was a little different.

"It was a silly mistake I shouldn't make, to be honest with you," admitted Norris. "I paid the price very quickly. So frustrated.

"It's disappointing because it cost me a chance to go into Q3," he continued. "I probably should have easily been into Q2, potentially Q3.

"I let the team down today, so I'm annoyed."

Asked what he hopes to get from the race, he admitted: "I don't know yet. The potential is there, I just don't know what to expect yet.

"The car has better pace I would say than we had in Bahrain," he continued, "so I want to be a little bit more hopeful. But it's probably a harder track to overtake on than Bahrain.

"The car was good and I was feeling comfortable. On the bright side it's a long race, with plenty of opportunities, so I look forward to that. Hopefully, I can make up for the mistake and we can try to fight our way forwards."

"It has been a bittersweet qualifying," admitted team boss, Andrea Stella. "On one side it's a shame that Lando clipped the wall in Q1 and the steering arm broke, because otherwise he would certainly have been a contender for Q3.

"Lando will have his chance in the race," he added, "as the car looks competitive, and races here can often be eventful.

"Oscar did excellent work to get into the final part of qualifying," he admitted. "He kept improving session-by-session through practice and run-by-run in qualifying where he put together clean laps and extracted the maximum from the car."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Jeddah here.

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1. Posted by kenji, 20/03/2023 7:19

"@ Defiant...Likewise. McLaren have not produced a race winning car for a very long time...except that glorious win at Monza with Ricciardo but sadly it was a one off. This new car is a dog by all accounts and a slow one at that. If you check the speed trap numbers they wre down a massive 20kph. That dog's only got three legs!!! Can they turn it around? I am rather sceptical. I can't help feeling that McLaren have too many fingers in too many pies and that somwhow the intensity of focus needed for the F1 team could possibly be being diluted somewhat. "

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2. Posted by Defiant, 19/03/2023 20:54

"@kenji, fingers crossed. However Dan Ric had a great outlook, team, a LOT of natural talent and speed too. I hope McLaren don't let another driver down. "

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3. Posted by kenji, 19/03/2023 12:42

"One needs to keep things in perspective...Piastri hasn't even completed one full F1 race! He seems to have a cool calm measured approach to it all and handling himself/car with a lot of maturity. So far so good...he's very quick and he has Mark Webber as mentor. Sounds like a great little team."

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