Potential weakness in upgraded McLaren MCL38 highlighted by Oscar Piastri

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren's Oscar Piastri ahead of a Red Bull at Imola.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri ahead of a Red Bull.

Oscar Piastri says the upgraded McLaren MCL38 has nullified some of their high-speed performance, though he is definitely not complaining.

Piastri received the full package of upgrades for Imola that McLaren team-mate Lando Norris had used to devastating effect in Miami, where he became a Formula 1 race winner for the first time. Imola would see a continuation of that momentum.

Oscar Piastri says McLaren nicer to drive but high-speed has dipped

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While there was no victory this time, Norris put Red Bull’s Max Verstappen under significant pressure in the closing stages of the Imola race, crossing the line within a second of the Championship leader, while Piastri was left lamenting the single, shortened DRS zone as he struggled to clear Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in his first stint, ultimately finishing P4.

Piastri, speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after the race, confirmed that the MCL38 is now nicer to drive after the upgrades and their low-speed performance has improved, though that has come with the caveat of sacrificing some of their prowess at high speed.

Asked for his thoughts on the upgraded McLaren, Piastri said: “Yeah, it doesn’t feel that much different, just faster.

“It’s definitely making the car a bit nicer to drive. But I think whenever the car is quicker, it’s always a bit nicer to drive.

“But we’re definitely tackling some of the things that we were trying to. Our strengths and weaknesses seem to be a little bit different. Now, our high-speed is not as strong as it once was, but our low-speed is a lot stronger than it has been.

“So yeah, I think we understand the majority of why that is. So I think we can be pretty confident wherever we go now.”

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Urged to expand on this nicer to drive aspect, Piastri continued: “It just sticks a bit more and the balance is a little bit nicer.

“I think with these regs and these tyres, there’s only a certain amount of niceness that you’re going to have.

“I think if you ask everyone, they probably have a similar balance, just some areas that are a bit more exacerbated than others.

“So I feel like we’re making improvements and most importantly, we’re making the car faster. And when you make the car faster, especially in race trim, it just makes your life so much easier. So I think that’s a really encouraging sign.

“And we’ve come close over one lap in the past last year, but struggled a little bit more in the race and this year we’re just as strong in the race, if not even stronger, which is really encouraging.”

And with McLaren having now taken the fight to Red Bull at back-to-back weekends, Piastri is confident that the previously dominant team is falling into their clutches, making him optimistic for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix and beyond.

“I think we can definitely be confident going there,” said Piastri in reference to Monaco.

“Obviously Red Bull had a difficult start to the weekend, but that’s two weekends in a row where they’ve looked not quite as strong as they once were, Miami and here.

“So I think we’re definitely closing in, I think us and Ferrari are putting on the pressure. And I think, as a team, McLaren, we can be very confident wherever we go. And I think Monaco will be hopefully a good weekend.”

McLaren hold the record for most victories at the Monaco Grand Prix with 15.

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