The Barcelona Grand Prix was a high point for McLaren in terms of qualifying results this season, with Lando Norris unexpectedly securing third place on the grid, and Piastri placing tenth before moving up a spot due to a penalty incurred by Pierre Gasly.
The drivers had warned prior to the race that the qualifying conditions had misleadingly enhanced the performance of the car.
However, the race itself was more challenging than anticipated. Piastri fell to 13th place, and Norris only managed to recover to 17th after an early pitstop due to a first lap collision with Lewis Hamilton which spoiled his race.
Reflecting on the race, Piastri remarked, “It was a long afternoon, we simply lacked the speed to make an impact. A subpar first lap from me didn’t help either, but we didn’t have the pace to remain in the points anyway. We need to analyse why we struggled today compared to yesterday. We already have some possible explanations, but it was certainly a disappointing afternoon.”
He emphasized that the car performed better on soft tyres in the cooler Saturday conditions.
Piastri explained, “Yesterday [Saturday] was unexpected. Usually, we can’t place the car that high up on the grid. Sunday was a return to normalcy, perhaps even more challenging than we’d anticipated. We’re good at getting the tyres to work well in colder, more difficult conditions. We saw the same thing in Monaco. The team and I need to figure out how to make our races smoother on Sundays.”
He further admitted, “I don’t have a lot of explanations right now. Other teams seem to be able to push harder when needed and find an additional gear, whereas we plateaued. We need to address this issue.”
Like his fellow newcomers, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant, Piastri faced a tough series of street and temporary circuits leading up to Spain. He dismissed the notion that the larger Barcelona track had been advantageous.
According to him, “The risk of damaging the car is lower here, but not reaching the limit incurs a higher lap time penalty than at other circuits. Since everyone has plenty of laps here, it’s possible to find the limit without taking significant risks. But this also means everyone is pushing to their maximum. It was slightly more comfortable here than in Monaco, particularly during qualifying.
In recent weekends, the car has really come to life during qualifying. I want to focus on getting up to speed earlier in the weekend. I’m excited about the challenge of learning a new track [Canada] next, even though it’s a tricky one. However, in terms of results, being at a familiar track didn’t really make a difference.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about
What was McLaren’s qualifying performance at the Spanish Grand Prix?
McLaren delivered their strongest qualifying performance of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix. Lando Norris secured an unexpected third place on the grid, while Oscar Piastri initially placed tenth before moving up to ninth due to a penalty handed to Pierre Gasly.
Why did the McLaren team struggle during the race?
The McLaren drivers had warned prior to the race that the qualifying conditions had exaggerated the car’s performance. The race turned out to be more challenging than anticipated. Piastri fell back to 13th place, while Norris could only recover to 17th after an early pitstop due to a first-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton.
What did Oscar Piastri have to say about McLaren’s performance?
Oscar Piastri acknowledged that McLaren lacked the pace to make a significant impact in the race. He highlighted that the team performs better in colder conditions, as seen on Saturday and in Monaco. He suggested the need for the team to find a way to improve their performance during the race, particularly on Sundays.
How did Piastri feel about the Barcelona track compared to other circuits?
Piastri felt slightly more comfortable on the Barcelona track than in Monaco, especially during qualifying. However, he noted that failing to find the limit on the Barcelona track incurs a higher lap time penalty than at other circuits.
What is Piastri’s outlook for future races?
Piastri is focused on improving his performance earlier in the weekend and is looking forward to the challenge of a new track in Canada. However, he acknowledged that familiarity with a track does not necessarily translate to better race results.