Piastri getting 'more and more comfortable' with McLaren F1 car

ยฉMcLaren

McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri says that feeling "more and more comfortable" at the wheel of his MCL60 led to his impressive P9 performance in qualifying in Jeddah.

Contrary to teammate Lando Norris who hit the wall in Q1 and will start his Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the back of the grid, Piastri's execution in only his second F1 qualifying session of his career was flawless.

And with each passing lap the 21-year-old is getting to grips with F1 and feeling more and more at home in his new environment.

"I think every time I've jumped in the car I feel like I'm getting more and more comfortable," Piastri commented on Saturday evening.

"I think compared to Bahrain, I don't think I did anything massively differently or change anything. It just was all coming together better and better, and no mistakes today.

"It's still incredibly tight. But I was at the right end of the of the pack this time. So I just felt like I put everything together much better today. And it made a lot of difference."

On a track โ€“ the fastest street circuit in F1 โ€“ that takes no prisoners, Piastri took a gradual, build-up approach to his sessions.

"I think the first few laps in practice on Friday, everything was coming a bit quicker than I remembered from F2!" he said. "So that took a bit of getting used to, obviously.

"I think more than anything just getting more comfortable with the car has been beneficial. I feel like if you can get yourself comfortable with the car, then no matter what track you go to, it makes life easier.

"Even from Bahrain to here it feels like I've made a good step, and throughout this weekend and overnight. I think this morning was a good session, and obviously qualifying went well as well. So yeah, just building up into it.

"I think a bit of track knowledge maybe helps, but in saying that I've done plenty more laps of Bahrain than I have here!

"So I don't really think it was that, I think it's just getting more and more comfortable with the car."

Piastri also pointed to the overnight changes implemented on McLaren's car that helped the MCL60's performance progress crescendo.

"I think our just general pace seems a bit stronger," he said. "I don't think we really expected one lap to be better than our race pace, if anything Friday was almost the opposite to an extent.

"So we'll see what we've got on Sunday. But yeah, I think when we've got high grip, when we take the fuel out, I think for everyone the car feels a bit better.

"But for us it was good. I think what we did overnight really helped quite a lot. Even if it was not revolutionary, I think we were much more optimistic after P3 than we were at this point last night."

"So just those small margins again, really, really make a difference. And on Sunday, it'll be a close race I'm sure. A lot of other cars have got different strengths to us. So we'll see how that plays out tomorrow."

ยฉMcLaren

McLaren is expected to introduce a significant upgrade package next month in Baku. But in the interim, given the field's fine margins, Piastri highlighted the importance of avoiding mistakes and "eking out a little bit more" performance everywhere to remain among the top ten.

"It's just so tight. Even in Q1, I think the difference between being in the top 10, I think where I was, and being out, was like two tenths," he noted.

"So you make a small mistake, or a couple of small mistakes, and it looks like a complete disaster. And you put a really good lap together, and you look like a hero.

"So we've really got to tackle those really small margins, which I think we're doing a very good job of. And obviously, we've got some upgrades in the pipeline throughout the course of the year that will help, but I'm sure everyone else will, as well.

"And just managing to eke a little bit more out everywhere we can, especially with the field so tight as it is now, is going to make the difference."

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