Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

McLaren were quick enough for double points finish without car problems – Stella

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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McLaren’s race was ruined by technical problems for both drivers but their cars were quick enough for both to score points, team principal Andrea Stella believes.

A pneumatic system fault forced Lando Norris to make no fewer than six pit stops. Team mate Oscar Piastri retired 13 laps into his debut due to damage to a part of his car’s electrics.

Stella said McLaren opted to keep Norris in the race despite his problem. “There was a pneumatic pressure leak on Lando’s car,” he explained. “We discovered this leak relatively soon in the race, and then we knew that it was possible to do only 10, 11 laps each time before having to refill.

“So we decided to stay in the race. We decided to try and stay at least within one lap from the leader in the last ten laps and then if there is a Safety Car try and see if there’s an opportunity. But it meant that we did six stops.”

Norris was lapped halfway through the race, having already stopped three times. As there was no late Safety Car period after he made his sixth and final pit stop he was classified a twice-lapped 17th.

He said the problem struck early in the race. “I had a good start, a good launch, I made up a few positions I think, then we just had problems from turn one onwards, basically,” he told media including RaceFans afterwards. “Pneumatic problems and various other issues just brought us out of the race more and more.”

Despite languishing at the bottom of the constructors’ standings, a position the team last held halfway through the 2017 season, Stella was positive about the pace of the McLaren MCL60 on Sunday.

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“I think the most positive element today is that without the issues, Lando would have been a strong contender for points,” he said.

Race start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
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“The pace of the car in the race was almost beyond expectation. I think in the race we see some reward of the work we did over the winter in trying to improve the interaction between the car and the tyres. This was certainly a strong position on Lando’s side.

“But also Oscar actually was having good degradation in the first stint. He overtook cars, it was a very tight race, so we could have been in the points with two cars. That’s the most positive outcome of this event.”

Norris agreed the performance of the McLaren MCL60 was “not as bad as everyone was expecting before the test and before the race.” He said the car’s pace “was actually okay-ish today as well, and I think we could have scored a point today at least. So a shame we had the problems that we did.”

“We still tried to stay in it for as long as possible, that’s why we only retired with two laps to go,” he added. “We scored points in the past in Jeddah [the next race on the calendar], there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have scored points today.”

McLaren changed Piastri’s steering wheel in an unsuccessful attempt to fix the fault on his car. The team was still trying to establish the origin of his electrical fault after the race.

“The steering wheel change didn’t fix the problem, because we see that the electronic damage is further down the line around the steering column,” Stella explained. “So the steering wheel wasn’t the problem. It was a problem with the harness, probably, we are investigating. Not fixable in a short time.”

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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5 comments on “McLaren were quick enough for double points finish without car problems – Stella”

  1. I’m not so sure that was the case as I think the regular tyre stops to top up the hydraulics probably masked some epically bad tyre deg. It was heartening to see they were not completely at the back though and did look a midfield team.

    1. Yeah, it is really hard to compare race pace with others when they never did more than about a dozen laps on each set of tyres @slowmo.

      Sure, it is possible that the team saw the tyres weren’t much degraded. But then, they usually start degrading only later in the stint, so you wouldn’t really see that from such short bouts on them.

      I guess it is good to see they keep their hopes up, but unless they show that pace is really there in the next few races, I would certainly not put my eggs in their basket.

  2. MB (@muralibhats)
    6th March 2023, 19:43

    Haas can also say that we had terrible car design.. else we would had been on podium

  3. Oh McLaren, drinking the kool-aid. Freddo’s for all to celebrate a job well done!

  4. You could also say that if all the other cars broke down Lando would have won.

    In this day and age where reliability is pretty much a given, to lose both cars to reliability issues shows a lack of attention to detail.

    I know they have to try and say something positive and good on them for doing it, but Mclaren really needs to take a long hard look at itself. For a supposed “big budget” team they’re just not showing the sort of speed and quality you’d expect.

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