Piastri ‘in a good place’ with faster McLaren

Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris were both left buoyed by the upgrades to their cars which have made the McLaren faster 

Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris were both left buoyed by the upgrades to their cars which have made the McLaren faster 

Oscar Piastri was left in “a good place” after sampling what he claims is a “faster” McLaren following the addition of its upgrade package.

Piastri will start 10th for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, setting exactly the same time as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll but later in the session, and three places behind team-mate Lando Norris who felt he had the car beneath him to have qualified fifth.

But as the first of a rapid line of updates go, it was a good first step for a team that in pre-season readily conceded to missing its development targets over the winter, placing it on the back foot in the first three races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Predominantly sporting a revised floor and circuit-specific rear and beam wings, Piastri said: “The car is feeling good.

“In terms of balance and behaviour, it feels pretty similar to how it was previously, it’s just faster. That’s a good place to be in.

“I don’t know if our car is just working well here with the new Tarmac, or these upgrades are working a bit better than we thought, but it seems to be a good step forward, which is really encouraging for the rest of the year.

“It was certainly a small surprise to have both of us into Q3 reasonably well, but the car is performing well, and I felt my performance was pretty good.

“We kind of ran out of tyres at the end in Q3. It compromised us a little bit, and obviously doing the same lap time as Lance hurts a little bit.

“All in all it’s a good day, a good start to the weekend.”

Norris bemoans strategy flaw

Norris set the sixth fastest time in Q2 only to drop a place at the end of Q3, which left him disappointed given his own positive feeling with the car.

“It wasn’t the best of days really,” said Norris. “We should maybe have been fifth, I would have said. We just didn’t do a good job with the strategy.

“We went to put the new tyre on in Q3, so I was a bit on my own, in no man’s land, so no slipstream and things.

“But still a very good job by the team. The upgrades worked as expected, with the performance a combination of that, with the rear wing, running a lot of downforce.

“This is a track where the upgrades don’t show as well what they can do, and maybe the next few weekends will. There are definitely some promising signs.”

Under the revised weekend format, another qualifying session known as the sprint shootout runs at 12:30 local time (18:30 AEST) ahead of the F1 sprint at 17:30 (23.30 AEST).

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