McLaren reveal hidden Oscar Piastri data that will alert Lando Norris

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri

Lando Norris looking away from Oscar Piastri

Miami GP winner Lando Norris benefitted from the full McLaren MCL38 upgrade package, but it turns out that team-mate Oscar Piastri neutralised that advantage and then some over one lap.

While Norris would steal the headlines in Miami by becoming a Formula 1 race winner for the first time, it was his team-mate Piastri that shone in the first stint, the Aussie keeping the pressure on race leader Max Verstappen, who had been chasing a fifth win of the season.

Oscar Piastri to Lando Norris qualifying gap smaller than package difference

Piastri finished within a tenth of Norris in qualifying and seized his opportunity to rise to P2 in a rapid Miami GP race start, with the timing of the Safety Car later in the race proving ideal for Norris, but not so much for Piastri, marking a reversal in fortunes of the McLaren drivers.

Piastri’s race weekend performance though was very much noted by McLaren team principal Andrea Stella, who revealed that Piastri’s gap to Norris in qualifying was less than what the upgrades should have created, giving Norris food for thought once Piastri gets the fully-upgraded MCL38 too for the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

“Oscar comes out of [Miami] even more conscious of his strengths as a driver,” said Stella.

“We sort of knew already how fast he is on a single lap.

“Consider that he didn’t have the full package – and let me pay proper credit to Oscar, the gap he had to Lando in qualifying is smaller than the difference of the package he had.

“So he was really pulling off strong performance over a single lap in very difficult conditions, like all drivers with soft tyres.

“His performance in the race was again very strong.

“Lando said something really nice before; he said by looking at Oscar overtaking a Ferrari, he got like, ‘Wow, we are actually there’.

“So, it was a realisation for Lando himself. And Oscar could keep a strong pace in the first stint.

“So, I think he comes out of [Miami] with this sort of convictions, which, especially in terms of race pace, is something that we wanted to improve, having looked at Japan, having looked at China.

“For me, he’s in a very strong place.”

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Stella, speaking to media at the Miami GP, explained exactly how the MCL38 packages run by Piastri and Norris differed and in good news for McLaren, confirmed that the upgrades did work as expected having brought them to the Miami International Autodrome ahead of schedule.

“First of all to clarify that both cars have been upgraded, compared to the specification we had in China,” said Stella.

“For Oscar, we upgraded the front of the car with the front wing, the front brake duct and the front suspension, rear brake duct as well and a little bit of the rear suspension.

“For Lando, we also had the sidepods and the floor.

“So both cars have actually improved from a lap time point of view compared to China.

“Data tells us that all the upgrades behave as expected. So we can see that Lando’s car performs a bit better than Oscar’s car. And we can see with all the sensors, especially the pressure sensors that we have on the front wing, even on the suspension, they behave as expected.

“So I think, once again, testament to the good work of not only the aerodynamic department, but design and everyone that participated in creating these upgrades and also delivering them to the track ahead of time, because we thought this was actually possible for Imola, but we managed to gain a couple of weeks.”

All eyes are now on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola to find out whether Red Bull has met a true challenger in McLaren, having dominated F1’s ground effect era.

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