Piastri: Norris’ P2 at F1 Chinese GP is “very encouraging on a track that we thought we would struggle at”

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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Oscar Piastri’s Chinese Grand Prix was a damage-limitation race for him and his team in the second half of it. While his teammate secured P2 and stood on the podium, Piastri managed to hold off Lewis Hamilton and finish in P8.

The Melbourne born driver’s race turned in an instant. As Daniel Ricciardo was rear-ended by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll during the restart, the RB F1 car gently touched the rear of the MCL38, leaving Piastri with diffuser damage.

Although Piastri did not feel getting hit, the team confirmed that he lost a solid chunk of performance, equating to 0.4s a lap according to Team Principal Andrea Stella.

“It was a big loss. Oscar had damage on the diffuser. He lost a significant amount of rear downforce equivalent to I would say four-tenths of a second.

“So when we heard the numbers, I wasn’t very optimistic that we could have hold positions like Oscar has been able to do.

“So, I think even if his result obviously is less noticeable than Lando’s, I think he did a good job in trying to understand how to drive the car when he lost so much rear downforce.

“The car was very oversteery obviously, because you lose downforce on the rear axle, but he managed to make some adaptations and keep Hamilton behind. So, that’s a strong result.”

Speaking post-race, Piastri revealed that it was quite difficult for him to drive his car due to the damage and lost a lot of pace.

“Very, very hard. Yeah, I looked at the car afterwards and yeah, my diffuser is… I’m pretty sure that’s not how the engineers designed it. 

“So, yeah, it’s unsurprising that I lost so much pace from that point, which is a shame because I think, yeah, some good points were on offer today.”

Responding to the accusations from Stroll that drivers in front of him braked early which made him crash into Ricciardo at the restart, the McLaren driver responded in trademark deadpan fashion.

“Yes, but everyone else didn’t crash into each other. I think in that kind of corner, you always kind of need to expect that.

“But yes, I mean it did get quite close between a lot of us.”

Heading into the weekend, McLaren had expected to struggle around the Shanghai International Circuit.

However, Lando Norris displayed tremendous race pace and was the second quickest car in Shanghai behind Max Verstappen to secure his 15th podium in F1 with P2.

Piastri admits it’s something McLaren need to figure out as to why they exceeded expectations in China, following on from the disappointment of Japan when they had been predicted to be the second fastest team behind Red Bull. In the race, Ferrari had a clear edge at Suzuka.

“I think we need to understand why we’re quick on certain days and not quick on other days. 

“I think we’ve got some good ideas, but yeah, just need to sort of make sure that our reasons that we think why we’re good are actually why.

“Yeah, because like I said, we thought we would struggle quite a lot here. I think it’s very encouraging that Lando is able to finish second on a track that we thought we would struggle at. 

“It’s exciting for what’s to come in the future. With some new parts coming to the car, it’s encouraging signs.”