During the initial rounds at the Hungaroring, Piastri was placed second following the race front-runner, Max Verstappen. However, the team decided to pit Norris, who was in the third position during the first stops.
The additional speed that Norris gained from fresh tires was sufficient to overtake Piastri. The latter made his pit stop a lap later and re-entered the race behind his teammate.
McLaren’s decision to pit the second car first was a slight deviation from the norm. Teams generally give preference to their leading car. However, Andrea Stella, McLaren’s team principal, has provided an explanation for this move.
Stella clarified that the decision to pit Norris first was due to the looming threat of him being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. Consequently, it was in the team’s best interest to pit the Briton first.
The team did not foresee that Norris, with his new tires, would surpass Piastri, who had a strong first stint.
“When it comes to the undercut that occurred at the first stop, the sequence naturally follows the car that’s at higher risk, followed by the other car,” Stella explained.
“Lando’s out-lap was incredibly fast, resulting in Oscar losing his position. Our approach in such situations is to prioritize the team first. We approach the situation as a team and then address any internal issues.”
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Michael Potts / F1 Flow Images
Stella used Ferrari’s strategy mishap during the previous year’s Hungarian Grand Prix as a case in point. The team chose slower hard tires for Charles Leclerc due to perceived pressure from Verstappen, illustrating that teams need to be aware of external factors.
“When competing with teams outside your own, it’s crucial to avoid internal conflicts that might end up costing the team,” Stella stated.
He further added, “Looking back at last year’s race, a similar incident occurred with the red car, which proved quite costly. We aim to avoid such situations.”
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In the end, the strategy to move Norris ahead didn’t have much impact as Piastri’s pace dropped significantly in the race’s latter half, finishing fifth.
Stella shared that Piastri’s performance was affected by floor damage, leading to a loss in rear downforce.
“Oscar’s car was damaged, affecting his performance due to time loss,” Stella stated.
“Also, we believe that this loss in rear downforce resulted in extra tire wear. This partly explains why he had trouble keeping up with Lando and other cars behind him.”
The team believes that Piastri sustained the kerb damage after running over one.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about McLaren’s Hungary F1 Strategy
Who was leading in the early stages of the Hungary F1 race?
Max Verstappen was leading in the early stages of the race, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri running second.
What was McLaren’s controversial strategy during the first pit stop?
During the first pit stop, McLaren chose to pit Lando Norris, who was running third, instead of the second-placed Oscar Piastri. This allowed Norris to gain extra pace and overtake Piastri.
What was the rationale behind McLaren’s strategy, as explained by team principal Andrea Stella?
Andrea Stella explained that McLaren pitted Norris first to avoid the risk of him being undercut by Lewis Hamilton. The team didn’t anticipate that the fresh tyres would give Norris enough pace to pass Piastri.
What example did Andrea Stella use to emphasize the importance of considering external factors in team strategy?
Stella cited the example of Ferrari’s strategy at the previous year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where the team put Charles Leclerc on slower hard tyres due to pressure from Verstappen, thus demonstrating the need for teams to be mindful of external factors.
What affected Piastri’s pace in the second half of the race?
Piastri’s pace in the second half of the race was affected by floor damage to his car, causing a loss in rear downforce and extra tyre degradation.