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Andrea Stella celebrating with McLaren F1 team following a second and fourth place finish for Norris and Piastri.

Stella: The ‘margins are so close’ as he suggests McLaren is knocking on Red Bull’s door 

Stella stated that "it's important" to be around Red Bull and closing in on race wins

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McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has admitted that race management is a crucial factor in a race when the cars at the front are “within one-tenth.” The Spaniard praised Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his driving “skills” during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrate on arrival in Parc Ferme during the F1...
Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrate on arrival in Parc Ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna (Photo by Steven Tee/LAT Images)
‘Execution’ is key

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw McLaren continue their upward turn in form as F1 entered its European leg of the season, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri claiming second and fourth, respectively.

The Miami Grand Prix saw Norris claim his first win in F1 and McLaren’s first since Daniel Ricciardo’s win in 2021.

The race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari looked set for a Miami sequel, as Saturday’s qualifying session saw the top three Verstappen, Norris and Piastri separated by 0.091 of a second.

Stella expanded on how other factors of the race can become vital when attempting to win a race when the cars are so evenly matched.

Speaking to F1, Stella said:

“Execution of the weekend is always a key factor,” said Stella. “But now when margins are so close, I think the first three cars in qualifying were within one tenth or something, then clearly operations, the way you drive the race and manage the tyres can become the dominant factor.

“I think between a McLaren and a Red Bull today there wasn’t much to pick and other factors made a difference.”

Verstappen is being reeled in

Until the Miami Grand Prix, Verstappen and Red Bull had won four out of the five races leading up to the Florida-based event, losing only one due to a retirement.

The Dutch driver also equalled Ayrton Senna’s record of eight consecutive poles in F1 on the same weekend, 30 years after the Brazilians’ fatal crash at Imola.

While Red Bull has experienced 53 wins since 2021, McLaren’s two are their first victories since 2012, when Jenson Button won the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

However, Stella puts part of their success in Imola down to the skill of Verstappen but admitted it was important to “knock on the door of victories”.

“I think we also see the skills of the driver who won the race, it’s Max Verstappen. But for us, it’s important to be there and knock on the door of victories on a weekend in which like at some stage it looked like Ferrari had the fastest car, then Max appeared in qualifying so it is very variable, so it is important we were there.

“The other thing I can say today is that being in the dirty air seemed to play a big factor, so anytime you had back markers [they] seemed to play a part. So having the pole position, being ahead in the first corner kind of give you the free air to manage your tyres in a certain way and manage your pace.

“So, from this point of view, Max did a good job yesterday in getting the pole position and being ahead in the first corner.”

McLaren remain third in the Constructors’ Championship, 58 points behind Ferrari in second and 114 points behind Red Bull in first.


Featured image: Photo by Steven Tee/LAT Images

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