Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomeNewsF1 2023: Oscar Piastri set for tough rookie season, McLaren boss’ grim...

F1 2023: Oscar Piastri set for tough rookie season, McLaren boss’ grim prediction, Lando Norris expecting more struggles, when does season start

- Advertisement -

Hopes of a breakout Formula One season for Australian rookie Oscar Piastri might have to be tempered, with McLaren’s incoming boss “not entirely happy” with the team’s 2023 car.

McLaren unveiled its MCL60 at its season launch this week, but new team principal Andrea Stella said the car was still a work in progress and was quick to lower expectations for the upcoming season.

“We identified multiple areas of opportunities,” Stella said at McLaren’s launch.

“The good news is that pretty much all of them have been addressed.

Watch Every Practice, Qualifying & Race of the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

“I wouldn’t want to be too specific, but certainly they have to do predominantly with aerodynamics. Aerodynamics is the name of the game in Formula 1 so it’s no mystery.

“But there are some more areas, for instance in terms of interaction with the tyres. There’s some work that we needed to do and this was done over the winter.

“There are some other areas of the car that will be improved by developments in the early stages of the season.

“So, we are happy. Not entirely happy for the launch car, but optimistic that we should take a good step soon.”

McLaren is eagerly awaiting its new state-of-the-art wind tunnel later this year, which is expected to help significantly with aerodynamic gains.

The team is also waiting on a new simulator but it won’t be until 2025 that McLaren will see all the benefits from its infrastructure upgrades.

McLaren finished fifth in the constructors’ championship last season and will be aiming to beat Alpine to be the “best of the rest” in the standings behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

“While we are happy with the development of the car in most of the areas, there’s some areas in which we realised a little late to (prioritise) development in some really strong directions,” Stella said.

“So, not necessarily we have been able to capitalise on this direction in the very short term. That’s why I talk about the developments coming after the start of the season.

“In this sense, I just invoke realism. Normally you need to be totally happy and totally at the top of what you can do to achieve your targets.

“Over the course of the season, we would like to establish ourselves as part of the top four.

“There are good developments already in the pipeline that should land trackside very early in season.

“This should allow us to take a decent step forward, (but) we are not naive. We know that pretty much every team will be staying the same. we have good developments.

“We also have some more high-level developments ongoing, overall in the team.”

Lando Norris said: “I don’t see us being able to fight for wins much this season. You never know and there is always the odd race where you could have that opportunity.

“But this year we just need to give ourselves a very solid position to go into next year.

“Hopefully, we are the leading team of the midfield and we can be the pioneers of leading the way to closing that gap to the top three teams and that can hopefully be done from 24 to 25.”

“I want to believe ‘24, ‘25 are when you should start to see some bigger changes. It feels like a long time away. We’ve got the whole year to do. But the beginning of that starts this year.”

Piastri joins McLaren this season after the Woking-based outfit sacked fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo with a year to run on his contract following a run of poor results.

The 21-year-old won three consecutive championships in a stellar junior career but he might have to bide his time to experience success in F1, especially considering Norris only snagged one podium finish last season and is yet to win a grand prix.

Piastri’s management team of former Australian F1 driver Mark Webber and his wife Ann Neal have made it clear to the youngster from Melbourne that F1 is a serious step up from junior racing.

“There’s been a lot of advice from both Mark and Ann,” said Piastri, per Autosport.

“I think to sum it up, I guess not underestimating the challenge of F1.

“It’s obviously a big step up from what I’ve raced previously and also it’s a different dynamic racing in a sport, where this was my first year getting paid to drive race cars, which is pretty cool. So that’s a different dynamic to what I’m used to.

“I think just being one of two drivers in a team of 700 or 800 people that we have here, it’s a big responsibility. So I think that’s a bit of a difference, and Mark and Andrea (Stella) and Zak (Brown) as well, I don’t want to say a gentle reminder, but they reminded me of the responsibility that I have, and the impact that I can have on the motivation and the productivity of the team.

“Also being in a position to have a very key input into the design of the car. Obviously not building parts myself, but telling people what we need from the car, and (the team) being able to make different parts in the car to address that, is something I’m looking forward to.”

Piastri had a year off from racing last year but he’s already impressed McLaren with his astute instincts in pre-season testing.

“We say that Oscar is a man of few words, but the right words,” Stella said.

“We’ve been impressed with his rants, for instance in the simulator for the way he’s been finding performance, just the level of awareness he when he drives.

“And so, so far, very happy and impressed.”

The new F1 season begins at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5.

Story Credit:

- Advertisment -

Most Popular