McLaren now trust Piastri and Norris to race clean
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 23rd March, 2023 - 6:00am
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has paid tribute to drivers Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris for the careful handling of their first on-track battle during Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia.
The scrap was only for the minor places late in a race where both had been compromised within seconds of the start at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Piastri sustained front-wing damage after a minor collision with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, necessitating a pit stop at the end of the first lap.
Unfortunately for Norris, he ran over the debris from Piastri’s MCL60, leading to the British driver also requiring a new front wing at the end of lap two.
With the race effectively over for both drivers, they eventually crossed paths in the closing stages, with Piastri first passing Norris who then quickly reclaimed position before being instructed to allow by the Australian.
As to whether there were any nerves on the pit wall at the time, Stella said: “We discuss these things before the race.
“You know, they are extremely fair drivers anyhow, but if the car is papaya, extra care.
“I really would like to pay tribute to the fairness of our drivers. When racing each other it was very clean.
“We know we can let them race, in this sense, because we know we can trust them.”
Piastri no big step just steady progress
For Piastri, it was an opportunity missed after he started from eighth on the grid, in comparison to Norris who was a lowly 19th after kissing a wall in Q1, breaking the steering arm on his car.
Stella could not be happier with how the 21-year-old Melburnian has improved over a short period of time.
“We have seen really strong progress from Oscar,” said Stella, who dismissed the suggestion he had taken ‘a big step’ in Jeddah. “For me, it’s steady progress session by session.
“If you look back, in FP1 he was a little bit more competitive than in Bahrain, then FP2 closer, and FP3, pretty much a match with Lando.
“He capitalised in qualifying and then was very strong in the race.
“For me, I see more this sense of constant progression, which is ultimately the plan that we have with Oscar.”