Even though the Las Vegas Grand Prix turned out to be a disappointment for McLaren in comparison to previous races, Oscar Piastri still showed promise following a difficult run of races in the Americas.
The Australian was struggling to match his team-mate Lando Norris in qualifying, with the pair making an early exit in Q1 owing to an ambitious tyre strategy.
Piastri would come away from the weekend with two points, but McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella felt his performance warranted more.
“It was just a massive shame because Oscar was absolutely brilliant,” Stella told media, including RacingNews365.
“We were expecting the car to I think I said that certainly eliminated in Q1, was in our position because we knew we had improved the car from practice.
“It’s a shame that because we had started the race on Hard tyres, we needed to pit before the due time because of the contact with [Lewis] Hamilton [on Lap 17].
“With the Safety Car placed where it was placed, it was always going to be a bit of an unfavourable race for somebody that started on the Hard, because you would have needed to add a stop at the end.”
Stella: We were holding our breaths during overtakes
Piastri had made his way up to ninth after two overtakes on Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg, later making an ambitious move around the outside of Kevin Magnussen for eighth.
Contact with Hamilton as he attempted to fend off the Mercedes driver around the outside of Turn 14 forced an out-of-sequence stop for Piastri, but what followed was a series of impressive recovery overtakes on Logan Sargeant and Pierre Gasly.
“We were holding our breaths because obviously we always recommend to our drivers that there’s no result if you don’t see the checkered flag,” said Stella.
“But in fairness, when the overtaking was completed he had plenty of margin, it was safe, and it was well executed.”
Piastri’s pace comes at expense
When asked if McLaren considered bringing him in during the second Safety Car period for Mediums, Stella felt that it would have left Piastri vulnerable.
“We thought it was too early for the Medium, and he was in a strong position, retaining the track position,” explained Stella.
“I don’t think it would have been a good idea because at the end of the race we would have been in big trouble with the Medium tyres.”
Piastri managed to set the fastest lap in the closing stages on a fresh set of Mediums, however his blistering pace can sometimes come at an expense.
“These kinds of characteristics he has already shown,” said Stella.
“He still needs to figure out how to limit this degradation like the sprint race in Austin and Brazil.
“Also in Hungary, there were places in which Lando [Norris] had better capability of reducing degradation of the tyres.”