Piastri seeking answers to Barcelona slump and career-first in F1

© XPB 

Oscar Piastri admitted to struggling throughout his entire Spanish Grand Prix weekend due to a lack of confidence in his MCL38, a career-first in F1 for the McLaren driver.

Last weekend’s round of racing at the Circuit de Catalunya was one of contrasting fortunes for team papaya.

While Lando Norris powered to pole position on Saturday and put up a valiant fight against race-winner Max Verstappen on race day, Piastri faced a different reality.

Throughout the weekend, the 23-year-old struggled to match his teammate’s pace, particularly in qualifying which ended with a botched final flyer in Q3 that left Piastri a lowly ninth on Sunday’s grid.

Despite salvaging a decent P7 finish on race day, Piastri admitted that his weekend in Barcelona had been a challenging experience, unlike anything he'd encountered before in his young F1 career.

“I would say it's the first weekend where it's been such a consistent struggle,” he explained, quoted by Speedcafe. 

“In some weekends last year, the race was difficult but qualifying was not bad. This weekend, it's just been a struggle the whole way through, even through practice. It's just not been happening.

“Obviously just need to understand why it's been the case; tried a fair few different things setup side.

“I've just not had much confidence in the car, which is really the first time I've had that in my F1 career.

“From a tyre management point of view, it was probably not a bad result, but when you don't have the pace to begin with, it makes it very difficult.”

Despite dedicating significant effort to tweaking the car's setup and refining his driving style, Piastri couldn't pinpoint the exact cause of his struggles.

Guided by his engineers, he experimented with various configurations throughout the weekend, but a clear culprit remained elusive. However, the data gathered during the race offers some promising leads.

“Some hints and potential ideas,” he confirmed. “I think the magnitude of is… Yeah, doesn't make 100 percent sense at the moment.

“Just need to try and understand why it's been such a big struggle this weekend from the first lap.

“Friday, it's been difficult. It's not really gotten much better through the weekend. We've tried a lot, both with the car and with myself.

“Some of the corners I would say are explainable, others haven't,” he added.

“Some of the corners I felt I've driven them well have been worse than the corners where I know I've messed them up.

“When you're having qualifying laps like that, it doesn't fill you with much confidence. So, just need to understand why that was the case this weekend.”

In Sunday’s race, Piastri gained a position on the opening lap but struggled in both his first and second stints to gain an upper hand over Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

But finally clearing the Frenchman midway through his race ensured his seventh-place finish at the end of the day.

“I think the second half of the race was maybe a bit more positive,” Piastri said.

“Obviously, there was some optimism that if we could get through the Alpines quickly, maybe be in the fight with Mercedes and Ferrari, but ultimately didn't get through Gasly quick enough.

“Then, I think after that, the pace was certainly a bit better towards the end of the race.”

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