McLaren’s strategy errors cost them a “potential podium” at F1 Dutch GP, says Stella

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The Dutch Grand Prix weekend was notable for having had a radical change in starting positions. Heavy rain forced several teams to adapt to the new conditions, but not all did so successfully, Mercedes being a good example, but also McLaren.

Max Verstappen’s rear view mirror had Lando Norris and George Russell in it when the race started at Zandvoort on Sunday, Oscar Piastri started in 8th place.

On the first lap we could see rain falling and the Woking team decided to overlook it, which caused an obvious delay for both young drivers. Piastri stayed on track uninterrupted until lap 10 when he made a stop for dry tyres, while Norris boxed on lap 3 and lost much more time than expected and rejoined the race in 12th place.

Andrea Stella commented that there were two ways to approach the situation: “One was to try and get through the rain on dry tyres, or go in on intermediates.

“It’s very clear that the best approach was – actually the one that had the biggest reward was the one that was a bit of a gamble, which is to go in straight away like [Sergio] Perez and [Pierre] Gasly.”

The McLaren team principal indicated that with the information they had at the time, sending the Briton into the pits was the best option, but a miscommunication fractured the process and the Italian suggested that the driver of car number 4 should have led the conversation.

“The second lap, I think, was the very, very logical moment to go in where you had the evidence, the information to go in.”

“With Lando, we hesitated at that point, and we went in on the next lap and lost quite a lot of time.”

The Orvieto native conceded that Norris would have been overtaken by Alonso but that, most likely, he could have scored a third place and his third podium of the season.

“Potentially. I think Fernando was ahead of Lando because he overtook him on track.

“Fair play to Fernando who won the position on track, but behind Fernando, it could have been the position for Lando to finish.

“So definitely the missed opportunity includes a potentially missed podium.”

The Woking team loss was not just down to the error with the Bristol native, but also affected the day of Oscar Piastri, who was proving to be in a good position until a lock-up with Kevin Magnussen caused him pit again in the race:

“In two ways, it’s a missed opportunity.

“He may have got a little bit lost in the noise, but actually Oscar, who stayed out, was coming in very fast and was in a strong position.”

“But Oscar’s strategy was actually putting him ahead of Albon, who was running in P6 after the Safety Car, and Oscar was clearly ahead.

“So Oscar has missed an opportunity, and Lando has definitely missed an opportunity by not executing the race perfectly.”

The team led by Stella didn’t miss an opportunity at Zandvoort, it missed two, at the moment they’re 90 points behind Ferrari in the championship and 38 points ahead of Alpine, who put in a good performance last weekend.

Photo credit: McLaren Racing