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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren F1 in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Piastri reveals key aspect for McLaren success in 2024

The Woking team had a slow start to the 2023 season, lingering towards the back of the midfield, but soon found themselves as podium contenders

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Oscar Piastri stresses that it is essential that McLaren carries its momentum into 2024 after the team’s turnaround surprised everyone in 2023.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 MCL60 during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Piastri impressed in his rookie season (Image Credit: Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

McLaren endured a tough start to its 2023 campaign. The team found themselves at the lower end of the midfield, missing out on the points by a big margin.

The start of the season had the Woking squad worried. Team principal Andrea Stella and CEO Zak Brown admitted that 2022-23 winter development targets had been missed with its MCL60 challenger.

The MCL60 left Piastri and teammate Lando Norris pointless during the opening two rounds. However, an upgrade package in Austria changed the British team’s season around completely.

Norris was able to finish fifth with the upgrade package in Spielberg. However, it would be the team’s home race in Silverstone where the upgrades came into fruition.

Norris was able to achieve a podium at his home race. Momentum would continue all the way through to the end of the season – securing double podiums in Qatar and Japan.

2023 revival surprised everyone

The start of the 2023 season had many people questioning whether Norris should move teams and whether Piastri made a mistake in leaving Alpine for McLaren.

However, the Woking team’s mid-season turnaround shocked everyone. Piastri – who won the sprint race in Qatar – reckons the speed of improvement from McLaren exceeded everyone’s predictions.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 24, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan.
McLaren achieved two double podium finishes (Image Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“I’ve got complete confidence in [Stella], in Zak, in different parts of the business,” he said to Motorsport.com.

“It’s exceeded everyone’s expectations of how quickly we’ve been able to turn things around.

“For me, the impressive thing was I felt there was a very good base with the race team at the races. And then when we needed to make changes, we did, and it’s worked.

“The upgrades were able to deliver everything we hoped, in some cases more than we expected in certain situations. I didn’t expect to be in this position so early in my time at McLaren…

“The numbers were as we expected, but we didn’t expect it to vault us up so far.

“Something we tried to keep in perspective at the start was, ‘Yes, we’re slow and near the back of the grid. But it’s not actually going to take that much to get towards the front’.”

Momentum essential in 2024

McLaren’s next step is to return to the top, fighting for race victories. The Woking team will have a new wind tunnel to work with in 2024 – a factor that the team felt has limited them from competing against the top teams.

The expectation for 2024 is to put more pressure on the dominant Red Bull. Piastri was asked whether the team could catch the Austrian team or whether the development curve would flatten. The McLaren driver responded:

“The biggest thing is to continue the momentum. If you stand still, you’re going backwards.”

Whilst being happy with the progress, it was clear that the MCL60 still struggled in low-speed corners. The MCL60 performed at its best at high-speed tracks, such as Losail and Suzuka – achieving double podium finishes there.

“The thing for us is, we still have pretty clear weaknesses [low-speed handling] compared to our competitors. It’s just that we also have good strengths as well.

“How those are going to balance up against each other is always difficult even for us to know. Every team has some sort of fluctuation at every circuit apart from Red Bull [at] Singapore.”

Feature Image Credit: Kym Illman via Getty Images

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