Stella on Norris facing pressure from Piastri: “It’s a discomfort you need to become the best” in F1

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On the Losail circuit, McLaren reconfirms itself as the second force in Formula 1, once again ahead of both Ferrari and Mercedes.

McLaren have done a great job during the season, making staggering improvements to the MCL60 and to be able to count on two great talents, both ready to prove their worth.

But who excelled in Qatar was Oscar Piastri. The rookie came out on top at the end of the Sprint Shootout session, backed it up with his first Sprint win and finished second in Sunday’s race. After mistakes in both qualifying sessions, Lando Norris had to settle for P3 in the Sprint and Grand Prix itself.

Speaking post-race at his media session, team principal Andrea Stella shared his thoughts about the comparison between the two drivers.

Firstly, Stella clarified the response to Norris’ team radio. During the final stages of the Qatar GP, the Brit asked for the team to allow them to race after they wanted the cars to hold position in P2 and P3, and they responded once again to not attack. Norris abided by it.

“In terms of the message you heard, it is part of our protocol I would say. Because when we give drivers an instruction, we tell them ‘challenge us because we want to make sure we understand your point of view’.

“Like ‘challenge us’, tell us exactly what you think. We will reassess the situation and come back to you. But once we come back to you, just respect it. This is exactly what happened today, so that’s why you hear back. We ask drivers to challenge us.”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

Subsequently, the team principal commented that Norris is fully aware of his teammate’s unique talent and can handle the pressure after two years of dominating Daniel Ricciardo.

Piastri’s raw speed will help Norris improve and learn, according to the Italian.

“In terms of picking up the challenge itself with Oscar, first of all Lando knows himself that Oscar is a unique talent. You don’t see this kind of talent in Formula 1 everyday, so he’s an absolute reference even if he is a rookie.”

“At times Lando knows that he will set the bar very high, but if you are a champion like Lando is, you will have to take that from a positive point of view because it gives you so much information to keep improving.

“There is no champion in the world, in any sport, that wins everything. For a driver is faster in every corner, faster every lap, faster every session…maybe Max [Verstappen] this year (laughs) but that’s pretty exceptional.

“So for me Lando sees this as a bit of discomfort, but it is the discomfort you need to become the best in a way. It’s a curse and a blessing to be a champion.”