Piastri: Baku upgrades will move McLaren 'closer to the front'

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McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri is confident that his team's MCL60 will benefit from the upgrade package that will be rolled out by the team in Baku at the end of the month.

After a troubled start to its 2023 campaign due to the disappointing performance of its car, McLaren scored its first championship points in Australia, although it perhaps owed its double top-ten finish more to circumstances than merit.

As it attempts to boost its car's pace and mitigate its main weakness, meaning its dismal straight-line speed, McLaren will carry a significant upgrade package in its crates on its way to Azerbaijan.

And Piastri is convinced the updates will go a long way towards improving its MCL60.

"I think it’ll definitely help us to move closer to the front of the grid," he expressed. "I’m sure all the other teams have got upgrades of their own as well.

"And I think what we’ve got coming in Baku is a good step in what is a bigger plan throughout the rest of the season. So it’ll help a bit, definitely, and get us on the right track, I hope."

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But the 22-year-old Aussie also knows that McLaren's rivals aren't standing still on the development front.

"I think we are not underestimating that everyone else will probably have new parts as well, so we’ll see how much competitiveness we gain from that," he added.

McLaren will introduce its upgrade package on F1's first Sprint race weekend of the season, with teams only allowed a single practice session before heading in qualifying.


It's also a high-risk environment where damage comes easily, but McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has no reservations about moving ahead at the venue with his team's development programme.

"If there are no anomalous behaviours then it will be relatively easy," he said.

"That’s because in modern Formula 1, you have the data and you can read the aerodynamic performance through the forces that you measure, and through the pressure map around the car through the pressure sensors.

"So we are not too worried in terms of assessing whether they will be positive or not, unless there are some anomalies.

"But so far, I have to say, the car has proven to be correlating well with the development, so that’s why we have decided to introduce it, even if it’s a sprint race weekend.


While Piastri expects McLaren to take a step forward in Baku, at least in absolute terms, Stella has made clear that its update package won't be an immediate "game changer" for the team, but rather represent the first step of a bigger development effort.

"We know they’re not going to be a game changer, but it’s the first step of what we hope will be multiple upgrades, and we will then be in a condition to fight for points in the future on merit, and not only thanks to having eventful races," Stella concluded.

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