Piastri predicts McLaren in midfield battle

Oscar Piastri believes McLaren is in the F1 midfield after pre-season testing

Oscar Piastri believes McLaren is in the F1 midfield after pre-season testing

Oscar Piastri believes McLaren will be somewhere in a condensed F1 midfield battle when the season starts in Bahrain next weekend.

Piastri and team-mate Lando Norris have spent the last three days testing the McLaren MCL60 in Bahrain ahead of the world championship kicking off at the venue next weekend.

It’s been a difficult test for the team with a number of issues costing it track time.

That was underscored by the lack of running for Norris in the final session of the test – the Brit managing just 37 laps on Saturday to follow the 44 Piastri had managed earlier.

“I think we’re about where we expect it to be, I would say,” Piastri said.

“We’re probably somewhere in the mix of the midfield is my best guess at the moment.

“Of course, we don’t know exactly where everyone’s at in terms of fuel and engine modes and stuff like that, so we’ll find out on Saturday next week where everyone really is.

“But I think we’re about where we expected.”

Similarities to 2022

McLaren last year fell to fifth in the constructors’ championship, having been fourth in 2021 and third in 2020.

Brake problems during testing a year ago hindered its early progress and created a hangover from which the squad never fully recovered from throughout the campaign.

Development of this year’s car, the MCL60, has not gone entirely to plan with team bosses working to temper early expectations.

There is little doubt that testing didn’t go to plan as the squad struck problems with the wheelbrows on the MCL60, prompting long stays in the garage for repairs.

Piastri worked to play down the impact of those interruptions despite it leaving the squad with the lowest mileage of all 10 teams.

“We’ve had a few hiccups as a team, I think we’ve also had some solid running as well,” he admitted.

“It’s been a reasonable test, I would say.

“Personally, I’ve learned a lot. I would say there’s still some areas to try and master and hone in on more, but I think I’ve got a pretty clear direction on where I can improve myself.

“Half the battle sometimes is knowing where to improve, so I think I’m quite confident that now it’s just putting it into action with some more laps.”

With testing now complete, attentions now turn to the opening round of the 2023 season, the Bahrain Grand Prix, which begins on Friday.

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