Oscar Piastri optimistic about McLaren’s upgrades

The extended break between the races in Australian and Azerbaijan is allowing teams to bring forward upgrade packages earlier than planned.

The start of the 2023 season has not been the debut that McLaren’s rookie Oscar Piastri would have been hoping for, as he suffered a DNF and 15th place finish in the opening two races.

However, the Australia Grand Prix proved quite the homecoming for Piastri, as he took home a points finish by capitalising on the mistakes of others on the grid, navigating the chaos to P8.

The F1 rookie is optimistic about more points finishes later in the season, as the team looks to implement its first set of upgrades at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a couple of weeks.

“I think it’ll definitely help us to move closer to the front of the grid,” Piastri said, discussing the upgrades. 

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“I’m sure all the other teams have got upgrades of their own as well.

“And I think what we’ve got coming in Baku is a good step in what is a bigger plan throughout the rest of the season. So it’ll help a bit, definitely, and get us on the right track, I hope,” he added.

Despite the new parts, believed to be focused on improving the MCL60’s aerodynamic set up, Piastri is cautious about how much of a leap forward the team will make, as others bring upgrades to their cars.

“I think we are not underestimating that everyone else will probably have new parts as well, so we’ll see how much competitiveness we gain from that,” he admitted. 

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Azerbaijan proves an early opportunity for teams to alter their cars in the hope of better performance but it also proves a risky one, with the streets of Baku famously tough to navigate at high speed.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is keen to push ahead with the upgrades as early as possible, believing that “If there are no anomalous behaviours then it will be relatively easy.”

“That’s because in modern Formula 1, you have the data and you can read the aerodynamic performance through the forces that you measure, and through the pressure map around the car through the pressure sensors.

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“So we are not too worried in terms of assessing whether they will be positive or not, unless there are some anomalies.

“But so far, I have to say, the car has proven to be correlating well with the development, so that’s why we have decided to introduce it, even if it’s a sprint race weekend,” he explained.

After languishing at the bottom of the Constructors’ rankings at the end of the second race, McLaren shot up to fifth place following their double points finish in Australia.