Piastri realistic about McLaren’s chances ahead of F1 Chinese GP: “Qualifying was probably our peak”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing
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Between Lando Norris’s unexpected Sprint pole in wet conditions and a P4 and P5 for the McLaren duo in Saturday’s qualifying session, the Woking-based team appears quite competitive over a single lap in Shanghai.

Eighth was the best Oscar Piastri could muster in the Sprint Qualifying on Friday, citing gearbox issues.

Norris failed to capitalise on his pole in the Sprint Race, losing out at the start and slipping down the order. He never quite managed to recover after the lap one ordeal, and although he briefly appeared to close in on Carlos Sainz, he ultimately crossed the line 6th while Piastri followed his teammate home in 7th. 

Norris didn’t manage to replicate his earlier feat in dry conditions, but Piastri fared better in Saturday’s session, with Norris and Piastri qualifying fourth and fifth respectively.

Despite the promising showing, Piastri said McLaren have found themselves “out of position” and admits it will be difficult to remain there until the chequered flag.

He believes the Sprint provided an accurate picture of what McLaren can expect in race conditions, where they struggled to challenge Ferrari.

“I would say somewhere in the middle, to be honest,” Piastri said of the performance this weekend. 

“Fourth and fifth is a good result given there are quite a few corners on this track that we thought would be a bit of a struggle for us. I think to be especially ahead of the two Ferraris is a very good effort for us.”

Asked how optimistic he was for the race, Piastri replied: “I think we saw in the sprint this morning that the race could be a bit more difficult for us and qualifying is probably our peak.

“We’ll see what we can do but I think we’re maybe a little bit out of position and where we’ve qualified in a good way.

“We’ll see how long we can hang on in the race.”