Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2023

“I didn’t have the pace to stay with Lando” admits Piastri after position swap

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Oscar Piastri had no complaints about McLaren’s decision to move his team mate ahead of him through their pit stop sequence early in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He rose from fourth to second at the first corner, saying he “tucked into the tow” down the pit straight and correctly anticipated “some big moves” taking place ahead of him. As Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris ran wide at the first corner, Piastri moved to the inside and passed both.

He held position until pitting on lap 18 of 70. However McLaren brought Norris in the lap before, giving him the advantage of superior pace on new tyres before his team mate, and he jumped ahead of Piastri.

However Piastri didn’t object to the call, saying Norris was clearly the quicker of the two. “I think maybe the undercut was a lot bigger than we expected,” he told media including RaceFans after the race. “At the end of the day, it didn’t change my race. I clearly didn’t have the pace to stay with Lando or to challenge him, so something we can look at.

“But I think for myself, the biggest takeaway is to look into the tyre deg and tyre management. You can do the best starts and first stints in the world, but if you can’t hang on for the next two then it doesn’t matter.”

Piastri finished the race almost half a minute behind his team mate. He admitted tyre degradation “was the killer for me today.”

“I’m not 100% sure why yet, clearly something for me to look at,” he said. “I think it’s one of the first races where I’ve had a race with so much deg, multiple pit stops like that, so there’s plenty for me to learn.

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“But I think that was the sole key to my race. I made life easy for myself in the first stint and then it kind of unravelled from there.”

Race start, Hungaroring, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
He drew encouragement from finishing as strongly as he did with the troubles he had. “To have the struggles that I did and still come away with a top five is quite a nice position to be in,” he said.

“Clearly the tyre management is a big learning curve still. Barcelona is really the only other circuit where we’ve had two stops like that and a lot of deg. Still a lot for me to learn, and unfortunately you can’t learn these things in practice or testing. You’ve got to learn them the hard way in the races. So still plenty to look at.

“I of course want to be able to improve that as quickly as possible because we’ve got trophies waiting for us if we get it right. It’s something big to try to learn and I’m sure with experience and digging deep and doing my homework, that will come.”

Piastri also had a two-stop race in Montreal, and visited the pits three times in the grand prix at the Red Bull Ring. There Norris received the first of the upgrades that has turned McLaren into a podium contender, and Piastri received those upgrades in the races since.

He arrived at the Hungaroring having qualifying third and finishing second at Silverstone two weeks prior. Over the last four races the only drivers to finish ahead of him have been the Red Bull pair, his team mate and Hamilton.

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“To be racing against those guys on merit two weekends in a row now is very exciting for everyone in the whole team,” he said. “To have this kind of track, these kind of conditions, which were conditions of our nightmares at the start of the season or even a few races ago, it’s a full credit to the team of the turnaround we’ve managed to make.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Hungaroring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix in pictures
“To have the struggles that I did compared to Lando and still finish fifth highlights what a good job the team have been doing with the development of the car.”

The rookie believes that top-five form is now to be expected of McLaren for the rest of this season.

“Silverstone and here have been very different circuits, very different conditions. These track temperatures were stuff of our nightmares at the start of the year and Lando still managed to be on the podium, I’m still in the top five.

“So really the only car better than us was the Red Bull. Lewis was clearly very quick as well, but compared to where we were even a few weekends ago it’s very, very exciting that we can, I think, realistically aim for that every weekend.”

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2023 Hungarian 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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7 comments on ““I didn’t have the pace to stay with Lando” admits Piastri after position swap”

  1. He is on the right track. Pretty impressive drive for a rookie, I think he will improve in a year or so and operate at a level close to Norris.

    1. Hear Hear (slaps table) :)

  2. I read somewhere (this website probably, can’t remember) the Oscar Piastri got floor damage and that’s why he could not keep the pace. Is that true? In that case, how did he get the damage?

    1. Yes, it is. He damaged the floor at the beginning of the second stint running over kerbs and then it got worse when he had to go off track when fighting Perez later on. Still impressive to hang on to 5th despite that.

    2. He ran wide on his first out lap over a chicane and then again battling Checo. This caused a drop-off in pace with the added issue of increased tyre deg from damaged floor.

  3. The McLaren driver pairing is one of the strongest on the grid, and they actually work as a team. Great to see some decent results now the car is working.

    1. It’s a shame working as a team isn’t more common throughout the grid, as it makes the sport much more enjoyable. The top team pairings promised a lot of it, but teamwork never seemed to materialize as often as it should. Between bad luck, and car development suiting one driver over another, we rarely see two strong cars working tactically together. Of course there’s probably a lot of tactics I’m oblivious to.

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