Oscar Piastri casts clear verdict on controversial McLaren team orders at home race

Henry Valantine
Oscar Piastri signs autographs for fans.

Oscar Piastri finished fourth at his home race, in an impressive showing for McLaren.

Oscar Piastri has said it was a “completely fair” call for him to be asked to move aside for Lando Norris at his home race on Sunday.

Piastri had been running third on the road during the Australian Grand Prix before McLaren asked him to make way for Norris on fresher tyres in the final stint, with the drivers finishing third and fourth respectively and Norris taking his 14th career podium in the process.

Oscar Piastri: McLaren made ‘right call’ in Australian GP team orders

While the Melbourne crowd would have loved to have seen one of their own with a trophy, the strategy on the day ended up in Norris’ favour after Piastri opted to pit early.

He had been behind his team-mate on the grid and in the first stint, but stopping sooner forced an undercut that saw him ahead of Norris in the second stint of the race.

While this was of benefit to him in that moment, Norris and McLaren saw that the Briton was quicker and had a better chance of catching Charles Leclerc in front, hence why the team orders came into play.

Despite admitting his wish to have stayed among the podium runners, Piastri remained pragmatic about the decision.

“Yeah, I mean, that was fine,” Piastri told Sky F1 when asked about the swap of positions at McLaren.

“Lando qualified in front and tried something a bit different at the first stop, and he was quicker than me in the middle of that stint.

“At that point, it looked like he could maybe get in front of the Ferraris. I was kind of holding pace with them, but Lando was a bit quicker, so it was completely fair.

“Of course, I would have loved to have stayed in third but I think, as a team, we made the right call.”

When asked if there was anything he could have done differently to make sure of a potential home podium, he added: “Not massively, no.

“Just didn’t quite have enough to get the Ferraris. Leclerc ran out of tyres in the second stint there, but seemed to manage it a bit better in the in the third stint, so I don’t think there was too much more we could have done on my side.

“Just missed a little bit today all in all, but not a bad day.”

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Going into further detail, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella explained that the high levels of tyre wear around Albert Park, and the extra laps in which Norris had stayed out, created a delta which made him the faster of the two cars later in the race.

As a result, such a move was the ‘natural’ thing to do and would have happened anyway.

“Well, actually I would say that swap wasn’t even strategic, that was executional,” Stella explained to reporters after the race.

“The swap would have happened naturally because Lando had much fresher tyres.

“Every one lap you gain on tyres makes your car much, much faster than somebody that stopped before you because the tyres lose between half a tenth and one tenth per lap, so Lando was always going to overtake Oscar.

“We called the swap to avoid that this comes to an unnecessary race, in that it’s an unfair race because Lando has much, much fresher tyres.

“That’s also why we weren’t worried that Lando had gone long in the first stint, because we knew that with the fresher tyres, we could have caught up on Leclerc. But despite having fresher tyres, actually, we didn’t catch Leclerc enough.”

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