McLaren keen to keep Piastri "focused on racing" at home race

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McLaren keen to keep Piastri "focused on racing" at home race

Formula 1

McLaren keen to keep Piastri "focused on racing" at home race


McLaren will make sure Oscar Piastri is not affected by the demands of his first home race at the Australian Grand Prix in order to continue what the team describes as an “exceptional rate of development”.

Piastri was signed by McLaren last summer to replace the struggling Daniel Ricciardo, making his debut in the opening race of this season after a year out from racing. After encouraging signs from the young Australian – including his first Q3 appearance in Saudi Arabia – team principal Andrea Stella is confident he will handle himself well in Melbourne but says the team will also help.

“He is a very calm guy, I think he will be able to keep himself in the bubble,” Stella said. “But certainly we’ll have to make sure that he can stay focused on racing, and he can stay focused on keeping up with this exceptional rate of development session after session.”

McLaren has yet to score a point in the opening two rounds of the season and is bottom of the constructors’ championship after suffering damage to both cars on the opening lap in Jeddah, but Stella sees Piastri’s progress as one of the biggest positives for the team.

“It was a weekend in which we went for the first time this year in Q3. We have seen really strong progress by Oscar. Obviously, Lando (Norris) is a complete certainty. So we know that Lando is there. So there’s some positives, but for me the message stays the same. We need to work hard to improve the car and go back racing where we should belong.

“I wouldn’t say that he took a big step. For me it’s going steady progress session by session. But, if you look back, already in FP1 he was a little bit more competitive than Bahrain, then FP2 closer, then FP3 pretty much a match for Lando, capitalizing in qualifying, and then very strong in the race. For me, I see more the sense of constant progression, which is ultimately the plan that we have with Oscar.”

And Stella is hopeful that Piastri will have a chance to repeat his Q3 performance in Melbourne as he believes the Albert Park circuit should suit McLaren in a similar way to the previous race.

“As a track in in terms of tarmac grip, speed of the corners, I would say it should be more similar to Saudi then Bahrain. So we look forward to that place in terms of being able again to challenge for Q3 and challenge for good points.”