McLaren secures ‘rear wing expert’

Hamilton's defensive prowess and an alternate strategy, which omitted a pit stop during an early Safety Car period, kept Piastri at bay.

Despite initial skepticism, McLaren has effectively acquired a Mercedes “rear wing expert” following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The race offered a glimmer of hope for McLaren to secure a podium position at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

However, Oscar Piastri found himself ensnared behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes for the majority of the race, diminishing his chances of advancing as the laps elapsed.

Hamilton’s defensive prowess and an alternate strategy, which omitted a pit stop during an early Safety Car period, kept Piastri at bay.

READ: ‘He nearly took me out!’ Lewis Hamilton reacts to Ferrari driver

It wasn’t until Hamilton pitted on Lap 37 that Piastri could finally ascend, ultimately securing an impressive fourth-place finish behind Charles Leclerc and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

This performance netted McLaren 12 valuable points and, humorously, a “rear wing expert” in the form of Piastri, as he later quipped on social media.

Piastri’s attempts to overtake Hamilton were fraught with challenges, including multiple daring maneuvers that led him off-track.

Reflecting on the race, Piastri humorously suggested to Sky F1 that discarding his rear wing might have been a strategy to surpass Hamilton sooner.

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Yet, he acknowledged the formidable pace of Mercedes on the straights and McLaren’s struggles at the final corner as significant hurdles to his progress.

Mercedes’ speed, particularly on the straights, compounded by McLaren’s weaknesses, notably at the last corner, rendered overtaking Hamilton a daunting task.

Piastri lamented his inability to effectively challenge Hamilton earlier in the race, doubting it would have altered his final position significantly due to Ferrari’s superior performance.

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Piastri admitted that even with an earlier pass, reaching the podium to challenge Leclerc would have been a stretch.

He felt that maintaining proximity to Ferrari was the best McLaren could hope for, given their current performance level.

This sentiment underscored a weekend well navigated by McLaren, culminating in the team securing third place in the early standings of the F1 2024 Constructors’ Championship, with Piastri’s teammate Lando Norris finishing eighth.