McLaren acquire Mercedes ‘rear wing expert’ after frustrating Lewis Hamilton battle

Jamie Woodhouse
Oscar Piastri, McLaren and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, side-by-side in Saudi Arabian GP combat.

Oscar Piastri and Lewis Hamilton race.

Whether McLaren wanted a Mercedes “rear wing expert” or not, they have one in their ranks after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

For a time it appeared as though McLaren had an outside chance of making the podium at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, though Oscar Piastri watched the laps, and his chances, tick by stuck behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

At least Oscar Piastri now an expert on Mercedes rear wing

After Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc passed Hamilton, Piastri in the McLaren was finding this task much tougher going and found himself behind the seven-time World Champion for much of the race, several audacious attempts seeing him take to the run-off and thus returning the position.

Hamilton was on an alternate strategy having not pitted during an early Safety Car period, Piastri finally free on Lap 37 of 50 as Hamilton peeled off into the pits. He ultimately finished a still impressive P4 as Leclerc joined the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the podium.

And for McLaren, it was 12 points and a Mercedes “rear wing expert” gained.

Taking to social media after the race, Piastri posted: “Now a Mercedes rear wing expert and 12 points better off. Happy days!”

Sticking with the humorous approach, Piastri, when asked by Sky F1 if there was anything he could have done to pass Hamilton earlier, came back with “chuck my rear wing off”.

But on a more serious note, he said the fact that Mercedes were one of the quickest on the straights in Jeddah, while the final corner was a weak point for McLaren, meant the task at hand was always going to be very difficult.

“I think just didn’t quite have enough straight-line speed to do anything,” Piastri continued. “I think the last corner as well is not one of our strongest, so you put both of those together, and you end up stuck behind Lewis for a long time.

“I think Mercedes were also one of the quickest cars in a straight line this weekend, so that made life much tougher than I wanted it to.” recommends

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And even if he had got past Hamilton earlier than he did, Piastri does not believe he could have hunted down Leclerc for a spot on the podium.

“I think it would have been very tough to do any more than fourth,” he admitted.

“Maybe we could have stayed a bit closer to the Ferrari, but I think they’re still a step above us at the moment. So I think that was probably the most we could have done and it’s been a very well-executed weekend.”

With Piastri’s McLaren team-mate Lando Norris crossing the line P8, the Woking outfit sit P3 in the early F1 2024 Constructors’ standings.

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