McLaren hit with harsh reality check as Lando Norris told to leave

Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris encountered difficult races despite strong qualifying performances

McLaren entered the Spanish Grand Prix with high hopes following a strong qualifying session, with Lando Norris securing third place and Oscar Piastri starting in tenth, later promoted to ninth due to a penalty for Pierre Gasly. 

However, race day proved to be a significant setback for the team.

Piastri could only manage a 13th-place finish, expressing his disappointment: “Yeah, it was just a long afternoon. I just didn’t have the pace to really do anything.” 

The Australian driver acknowledged the need to analyse why the team struggled on race day compared to their performance in qualifying, indicating that they already have some ideas to investigate.

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Piastri highlighted that the colder conditions on Saturday had played to their advantage, allowing the car to perform well over a single lap. 

However, he considered it a unique situation and suggested that the team needed to find ways to improve their Sunday performances.

When asked about the challenging street and temporary circuits that the rookies, including himself, had encountered, Piastri downplayed the notion that the Barcelona track’s greater margin had been beneficial. 

The Australian explained: “I think the risk of damaging the car here is lower, but I guess the lap time penalty for not finding the limit is probably higher than those circuits. 

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“[Sunday] was maybe a bit more back to reality. Probably a more difficult day than what we would have hoped, even considering,” Piastri said.

“We seem to switch on the tyres very well when it’s cold (or) when it’s difficult conditions. Monaco was the same story as yesterday on the inters.

“So I need to try and work on that with the team, I think, and see what we can do to make our lives easier on Sundays.”

Despite the difficulties faced at the Spanish Grand Prix, Piastri expressed his optimism about learning a new track in Canada for the next race. 

However, he tempered expectations, reminding McLaren fans that the results at a more familiar track did not significantly impact their performance.

“So everybody is just really pushing to the max. From that point of view, I guess it’s a different risk. I definitely felt a little bit more comfortable here than I did in Monaco, especially in quali,” Piastri said.

“The last few weekends it just sort of comes alive in quali for me. So I still want to work on getting up to speed a bit earlier in the weekend. But yeah, looking forward to another new track [Canada] next time out. It’s a tricky one as well.

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“So that’ll be fun to learn a new track, but results-wise coming to a more familiar track didn’t really make much difference.”

It is evident that McLaren faces challenges in translating their strong qualifying pace into successful race performances. 

The team will undoubtedly analyse the data and work closely with their drivers to address the issues encountered in order to bounce back stronger in the upcoming races.