Piastri’s diffuser ‘pretty destroyed’ by Stroll incident in Chinese GP

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Oscar Piastri says the damage inflicted to his McLaren by the contact triggered by Lance Stroll’s blunder in the Chinese Grand Prix explained “quite a lot” of his car’s deficit in the second part of the race.

Piastri ended up as collateral damage when an inattentive Stroll rammed the rear of Daniel Ricciardo’s RB ahead of the race’s restart following the second Safety Car period.

This pushed the Aussie’s car into the back of his countryman’s McLaren as part of a chain reaction.

While Ricciardo was eventually forced into retirement by the incident and subsequent damage, Stroll got away with a front-wing change while Piastri suffered the consequences of the Canadian’s inattention.

“The car in front of me just stopped from like 60 to zero, so a really stupid incident. It was one of those,” commented Stroll after the race.

But Piastri was unimpressed by the Aston Martin driver’s impenitent attitude.

“Yes, but everyone else didn't crash into each other,” he reacted, quoted by Speedcafe. “I think in that kind of corner, you always need to expect that.”

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Despite damage impacting the performance of his MCL38, Piastri was able to bring it home in eighth position at the end of the day.

“I don't know how much time it was worth but looking at the back of the car after the race, it was pretty destroyed,” said the 23-year-old, describing his car’s condition at the end of the race.

“I think it explains quite a lot of the deficit.

“I think in the first part of the race it was looking okay – lacking a little bit of pace but not too bad – but then after the restart it was just very much literal damage limitation.”

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella elaborated on the damage sustained by Piastri.

“Oscar has damage on the diffuser. He lost a significant amount of rear downforce, equivalent I would say [to] four-tenths of a second, something like that,” contended the Italian.

“When we heard the numbers, I wasn't very optimistic that we could have held positions like Oscar has been able to do.

“So while his result obviously is less noticeable than Lando's, I think he did a good job in trying to understand how to drive the car when he lost so much rear downforce.

“The car was very oversteery, obviously because you lose downforce on the rear axle, but he managed to make some adaptations and keep Hamilton behind, so that's also a strong result.”

McLaren’s productive overall performance in Shanghai, where Lando Norris finished second, was in stark contrast to the team’s muted comments ahead of the race weekend, when Stella feared the worse given Shanghai’s specific layout and collection of slow-speed corners that have unsuited team papaya’s MCL38.

“Definitely, I think we need to understand why we're quick on certain days and not quick on other days,” Piastri observed.

“I think we've got some good ideas but just need to make sure that ours reasons that we think for why are good are actually why.

“It's very encouraging that Lando's able to finish second on a track that we thought we would struggle on,” he added.

“It's exciting for what's to happen in the future, and some new parts coming to the car, it's encouraging signs.”

Indeed, McLaren is set to introduce its first major upgrade package in two weeks at the Miami Grand Prix, one that should address the MCL38’s excessive rear tyre degradation.

"For Miami, we will have finally the first round of upgrades to our car," Stella confirmed in Shanghai.

"These upgrades will also include some attempts to improve tyre degradation, so we will try and see if we can take a step forward.

"Considering the amount of improvement we should do to get closer to some of our competitors, I would say that we need more than one round of upgrades in terms of helping the behaviour of the tyres.

"But for everything, this is kind of constant development. You never assume that that's good enough when it comes to keeping the tyres in the right operating window.

"Certainly the next one will be another interesting one from a tyre point of view,” concluded Stella.

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