Formula 1 Racing

“Too early” in season to order Piastri to stay behind Norris

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2024

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said they did not consider imposing orders on their drivers during the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race.

Oscar Piastri started the race behind team mate Lando Norris but overtook him to finish second. The pair were unable to pass eventual winner Max Verstappen and in the closing laps Norris was stuck behind his team mate.

However Stella said the team wouldn’t consider calling off a fight between its drivers at this stage in the championship.

“We will think about it later on,” Stella told the official F1 channel. “I think Oscar gained his position, he deserved [it] because he did a good manoeuvre.

“Somehow Lando opened the door, but it’s all racing, and if we need to influence this racing, we will do it later on. I think it’s just too early.”

McLaren arrived in Austria with Norris second in the championship, 69 points behind Verstappen. Piastri was sixth in the standings going into today’s race, 132 points off the lead. In the constructors’ championship, McLaren took six points off Red Bull, and are now 89 behind them.

The team’s drivers applied pressure to Verstappen early in the race and Norris was briefly able to get ahead. But as the tyres degraded they were no long able to get close enough to attack.

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“It was the same in Barcelona when Max was in condition to attack Russell at the start of the race, and then Lando actually was stuck behind,” Stella explained.

“When you have this transition from the tyres from the start to stabilisation, I think there’s more variability as to where you are with grip and you have more options, in terms of how you use the tyres, or how you, to some extent, abuse the tyres a little bit.

“Also the drivers, the first couple of laps, higher fuel, there’s just more variation. But after three or four laps, I feel things tend to settle. So that’s why we see more action at the start of the stint or in particular, the start of the first stint.”

Piastri said he hoped to pass both Norris and Verstappen when the Red Bull driver reclaimed the lead from his rival at turn four. “I could see that they were battling quite hard and into turn four I saw the move was quite late, and I knew that there’d be an opportunity on the exit,” he said.

“I was hoping I would get both but I was just biding my time and tried my best. I think I had probably one opportunity to try and get Max the lap after but…

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