Oscar Piastri says that his biggest surprise during his maiden Formula 1 season is McLaren’s inconsistent form during the first eight grands prix.

McLaren admitted at the launch of its MCL60 car that it had missed development targets and expected to begin the year on the back foot.

The Woking-based squad has struggled during the opening rounds, failing to score points at over half of the rounds staged so far.

Piastri, who is one of three rookies in the field this year, says that the unstable performance from one track to the next has been eye-opening to him.

“I think it is the inconsistency from track to track,” he said when asked what his biggest surprise so far this year has been. 

“We seem to be a bit up and down at the moment, but we are working on that. 

“Otherwise, it is just how tight the competition is. Aston Martin made a big jump, which was a surprise, but it is so close from 10th on the grid backwards.

“Depending on the weekend, the order from 10th to 20th can be jumbled up from around five teams – it is incredibly tight. 

“We have seen some exceptionally close qualifying sessions so far this year, and we have been on both the good and the bad end of those.”

Piastri has bagged two top 10 finishes so far this year, scoring an eighth place at his home round in Australia before crossing the line in 10th at the Monaco Grand Prix.

In a bid to boost its future, McLaren brought its first major upgrade to Baku, which steered the development focus in a different direction.

Piastri says it was a positive move for the team, who has made strong advances in set up work.

“I think the upgrade we brought in Baku helped us out a bit,” he said. “It is in a bit of a different direction to how the car was previously, so there is more potential with the development of the car.

“To catch the top teams, we need more development, but I think we have been getting on top of the setup of the current car. We have been fine-tuning it and trying to get the last little bits out of it. 

“I think we have nailed that part, and now we need some bigger bits to take that next step.

“Generally, our car works when it is cold and damp, which we saw on Sunday in Monaco and in qualifying in Spain. 

“I think that is the strength of our car right now, and that is where it has felt the most comfortable. In Saudi Arabia as well, when we were on a high grip circuit during the cool temperatures at night.”

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