McLaren disappointed for ‘brilliant’ Piastri in Las Vegas
By Mat Coch
Monday 20th November, 2023 - 4:05pm
McLaren boss Andrea Stella was left disappointed for Oscar Piastri after a fine drive was rewarded with only tenth place in Las Vegas.
Piastri started 18th but quickly rose up the order to run as high as fourth, before coming home in the last points-paying position.
The young Aussie navigated through the opening corner carnage to sit 13th at the end of the opening lap.
His progress continued, moving up to 11th by Lap 4 and into the top 10 just three laps later.
The 22-year-old showed strong confidence on the brakes on a circuit that offered little grip, with his move on Pierre Gasly at Turn 5 on Lap 29 a particular highlight.
However, his race was ultimately defined by a mid-race clash with Lewis Hamilton that left both drivers with punctures.
While Piastri got back to the pits without losing much time, the incident happened at an awkward time strategically.
Just 16 laps into the 50-lap encounter, it was far too early to fit a set of medium tyres, compelling the Australian to stop again later in the race.
A Safety Car for contact between Max Verstappen and George Russell around mid-distance was especially painful, offering those who’d started on medium rubber a cheap stop while bunching the field head of Piastri’s second.
As a result, having run as high as fourth in the latter stages, the McLaren driver fell to tenth at the flag – though he also picked up the bonus point for fastest lap.
“That’s disappointing,” Stella said when asked by Speedcafe about Piastri’s pace.
“Just a massive shame because Oscar was absolutely brilliant.
“We were expecting the car to… I think I said that certainly [being] eliminated in Q1 wasn’t our position because we knew we had improved the car from practice.
“But somehow, today was a bit of a surprise as to how quick we were.
“So it’s a shame that, because we had started the race on hard tyres, then we needed to pit before the due time because of the contact with Hamilton.
“Anyhow, today, with a Safety Car placed whenever it was placed, it was always going to be a bit of an unfavourable race for somebody that started on the hard because you would have needed to add a stop at the end.”
Piastri was the only McLaren to reach the end of the race after Lando Norris crashed out in the early stages.
The British driver lost control on a bump at Turn 11 on Lap 3 to exit the race in spectacular style.
With Aston Martin out-scoring McLaren by 10 points in Las Vegas, the two teams are split by just 11 points heading into this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.