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McLaren team principal Andrea Stella

Stella: McLaren can let their drivers race

The McLaren team principal is confident in Piastri’s development

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McLaren had their worst start to a Formula 1 season in years. They are currently the only team apart from AlphaTauri without points. Team boss Andrea Stella, however, praised his drivers for their cautious behaviour on the track.

McLaren's Norris and Piastri
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – MARCH 17: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren and Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren talk to the crowd on the fan stage prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 17, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Image Credit: Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

After Piastri failed to finish his first race as a Formula 1 rookie in Bahrain, he went into round two in Jeddah. But right at the start of the Saudia Arabian Grand Prix, the issues continued. A slight contact with Pierre Gasly’s Alpine caused Piastri’s front wing to be damaged. In the first seconds of the race, Piastri slipped from P8 to the back of the field. And it was even worse for McLaren: Norris drove over debris caused by the collision between Piastri and Gasly.

Both drivers had to stop their MCL60s in the pits in the first two laps to get new front wings. The race was mainly over for McLaren, and the chance for points was slim.

It was nevertheless exciting for the team: both drivers met each other for the first time as direct rivals on the race track. Norris overtook Piastri, but the latter could fight back his place. Piastri finished the race in P15 and Norris in P17.

Situations where teammates fight with each other can end badly. But McLaren team boss Andrea Stella clarifies, according to speedcafe.com:

“We discuss these things before the race.

“You know, they are extremely fair drivers anyhow, but if the car is papaya, extra care.

“I really would like to pay tribute to the fairness of our drivers. When racing each other it was very clean.

“We know we can let them race, in this sense, because we know we can trust them.”

Piastri shows strong development at McLaren

Stella highlights that Piastri is improving steadily, and it wasn’t just ‘a big step’ in Jeddah.

“We have seen really strong progress from Oscar,” said Stella.

“For me, it’s steady progress session by session.

“If you look back, in FP1 he was a little bit more competitive than in Bahrain, then FP2 closer, and FP3, pretty much a match with Lando.

“He capitalised in qualifying and then was very strong in the race.

“For me, I see more this sense of constant progression, which is ultimately the plan that we have with Oscar.”

Whether Oscar Piastri can grab his first Formula 1 points in his home race remains to be seen. It would also be the first points of the 2023 Formula 1 season for McLaren.

Feature Image Credit: Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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