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McLaren: Piastri compromised by limited upgrades in Miami

Oscar Piastri left the Miami GP empty-handed, although McLaren factors beyond his control compromised his chances.

It was Lando Norris who crossed the chequered flag in Miami to claim victory in the MCL38. Teammate Oscar Piastri failed to score points on Sunday, with a series of unfortunate events ultimately costing the Australian. Aside from his skirmishes with Carlos Sainz, the 23-year-old was fundamentally held back by the MCL38 available to him in Florida.

Even before the Miami weekend kicked off, Piastri was aware of the obstacles he would face. McLaren was unable to prepare all their upgrades in time for both cars, meaning that only Norris would have the newest iteration of the MCL38. The time loss suffered by the Australian from this deficit is estimated at two tenths.

Despite this handicap, Piastri was very competitive. After only introducing a moderate set of changes over winter, the latest McLaren upgrades were always expected to be substantive. Although Andrea Stella downplayed their impact leading up to last weekend, this was not necessarily a reflection of his expectations. The McLaren team principal did the same thing last season, characterising the team’s Austria upgrades as a reasonable step – rather than a revolutionary one.

That aside, Piastri spent most of the Miami GP at the front. With help from Sergio Perez in turn 1, the #81 car was Verstappen’s closest challenger in the opening stages.

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Andrea Stella praises Oscar Piastri

With slightly kinder Safety Car timing, the Australian could have left the sixth round of the F1 season with much more. Despite this, Andrea Stella has outlined the impressiveness of the youngster’s efforts:

“I think Oscar is even more aware of his strengths as a driver after this weekend,” motorsport-total quotes him as saying.

“We already knew how fast he is on one lap. Considering he didn’t have the full package, I have to give Oscar credit that the gap to Lando in qualifying was smaller than the difference of the package that he had.

“He really delivered a strong performance over a single lap under very difficult conditions.”

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More to come from Piastri and McLaren

The McLaren boss touches upon an important topic in his appraisal. It has become relatively common knowledge in F1 that the biggest discrepancy between the papaya drivers is on race day.

More specifically, tyre management is where Piastri suffers most significantly. In circuits where tyre degradation has been more limited, such as Jeddah, the Australian’s race pace is generally more convincing.

This is not to suggest that Piastri is incapable of conserving his tyres. In Miami and, previously, in Bahrain and Australia, his race pace was competitive. Still, this area is perhaps the final piece of the puzzle for the podium finishers in his F1 journey.

In the upcoming rounds, he will be equipped with all of McLaren’s upgrades. Combined with a greater understanding of optimising his race-day performance, the 23-year-old is someone to watch in the remaining F1 events.


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