Piastri says McLaren’s challenging Spanish GP race day brought the team ‘back to reality’
McLaren enjoyed a high-flying qualifying run at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but their hopes of converting that performance into a strong points finish were dashed with a tricky Spanish Grand Prix race day.
Both McLarens made it into Q3 amid lower-than-usual temperatures in qualifying, with Lando Norris taking an impressive third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, while Piastri took 10th, which became ninth after penalties for Pierre Gasly.
However, the team’s fortunes on race day were flipped when Norris got caught up in an incident with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the first lap, forcing him back into the pits for a new front wing, as Piastri endured a poor start of his own to drop three places in as many laps.
At the end of it all, the two McLarens came home outside the points, with Piastri taking 13th and Norris back in 17th – both drivers being lapped by winner Verstappen.
Asked if he experienced an ‘average’ day behind the wheel after finishing four positions lower than he started, Piastri said: “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. It was a disappointing afternoon.
“I didn’t have a very good first lap, then we just had not a lot of pace after that. We need to understand why, because it cooled down a bit, which we liked, but we still didn’t have enough pace.”
Piastri added that there will be plenty of work between now and the next race of the season in Canada to understand why McLaren’s pace has been fluctuating so much across different conditions.
“I think [qualifying] was a very good performance from the team,” he commented. “I think [the race] was probably more back to reality, I would say.
“We just need to understand why we struggle on Sundays and when the track’s a bit hotter and stuff like that. We’ll go and have a look.”
Despite their race-day struggles in Spain, McLaren remain sixth in the constructors’ standings, sitting ahead of Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Williams – while the team recently secured a coup in signing Red Bull’s Rob Marshall as their new technical chief.