McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella is unconcerned by Oscar Piastri’s recent tyre degradation troubles, insisting that his “outright speed” will combat the issue.
Despite scoring his maiden Formula 1 podium last Sunday at Suzuka, Piastri conceded afterwards that he needed to work on his overall race management.
Having outqualified his team-mate, the Australian had led team-mate Lando Norris up until Lap 26 when McLaren instructed him to allow the quickest sister car through.
Norris would proceed to pull away from Piastri at an average of 0.6s a lap thereafter, resulting in the two McLarens being separated by 16s at the chequered flag.
However, Stella has downplayed the issue, asserting that Piastri, who recently extended with McLaren through 2026, will improve his race pace as he develops as a driver.
“I think when it comes to race pace, it is not like you learn race pace and it’s a set of skills that then you deploy for every race,” he said.
“Race pace in a race like Japan, with high degradation, the car bouncing a little bit in some places, high speed, low-speed management is kind of applicable to Japan, plus some general learning.
“But this doesn’t mean that it was the same in Hungary or it was the same somewhere else. That’s why it’s a bit of a journey. It takes time, because every situation, presents its own characteristics.”
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren in qualifying parc ferme with team mate Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren. 23.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying Day.
With McLaren utilising the strength of its MCL60 car in high-speed corners to trail only Red Bull in Japan, the Woking squad wound up only behind Max Verstappen in qualifying.
However, for only the fourth time this season, Piastri narrowly pipped Norris over a single lap, securing his first front-row starting appearance in the top flight.
Stella believes that Piastri’s qualifying effort on his first visit to the highly technical Suzuka track showcased that he already upholds the underlying speed to build from.
“I’m sure Oscar will have learned things. And actually, I think towards the end it was already better than it was in the second stint,” Stella added.
“So it’s just a systematic work of cashing in all the possible learnings. There’s no one-off learning that is applicable to every situation.
“It’s just a rookie element. But the first thing I would take is always the outright speed, which is what we saw in qualifying. Because when you have that, race pace and all these things are much easier to work on.
“It’s not about finding the edge on a single lap in Suzuka like we saw. It’s more difficult to sort of work together with your engineers – that’s a gift.”
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