McLaren targets Qualifying 3, points in Spanish GP
By Mat Coch
Saturday 3rd June, 2023 - 8:37pm
McLaren is targeting a berth in Qualifying 3 and points in Sunday’s race at this weekend’s Spanish GP.
The squad has headed to Barcelona following a morale-building weekend in Monaco where both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finished inside the points.
McLaren has introduced new front brake ducts for this event, designed to improve the airflow and aerodynamic load.
It follows a new floor that arrived for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Norris finished ninth to score two points.
Further upgrades are coming, team boss Andrea Stella had admitted that the team’s “noticeably different” B-spec will arrive in time for the British Grand Prix next month.
In opening practice for Sunday’s Spanish GP, Norris ended the opening session 11th fastest, 1.18s off the pace, while Piastri was 17th and 1.75s away from the marker laid down by Max Verstappen.
“We remain realistic about the performance and the competitiveness of our car in the current specification,” Stella said of his team’s performance on the opening day in Spain.
“Barcelona has many long corners, which at the moment are difficult to digest for our car.
“It helps the fact that we have introduced some more high-speed content, which at the same time should help, but we would be happy to be a Q3 contender and come out of this weekend with some points.”
While Friday marked the first time Piastri had driven as part of the Spanish Grand Prix, he is no stranger to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Aside from his experience in junior categories at the venue, he’s also sampled McLaren F1 machinery there in the latter part of 2022.
It made him one of the few to have sampled the final sequence of corners without the tight chicane, which has been removed for this year.
“I’d be a bit surprised if everyone takes it flat,” he said.
“The last quarter on the track, the first of the right-handers I think that one will be quite easy flat, but won’t be very nice for the tyres.
“And the last one will be pretty tricky with the tyre.”