Stella: Piastri on a bit of a journey to improve race pace

Stella: Piastri on a bit of a journey to improve race pace

Stella: Piastri on a bit of a journey to improve race pace

McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella insisted race pace is not something you learn, and that Oscar Piastri will have go on the journey of gaining that knowledge.

On his first visit to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix one week ago, Piastri outqualified teammate Lando Norris and started the race on the first row alongside polesitter Max Verstappen.

Verstappen went on to win the race while Norris beat Piastri to second place at the chequered flag, the latter settling for third, a major achievement for the rookie McLaren driver – his first ever Formula 1 podium.

But Piastri was humble after the race at Suzuka, admitting he still needed to work on his race pace, and his tyre management skills, which was the reason why he lost out to teammate Norris, and notably that was not the first time this season.

Piastri said at the time: “In these kinds of races there’s no easy way to learn apart from just going through the races and having an experience where it’s good or bad.”

And McLaren boss Andrea Stella also believes his impressive rookie has to go through the pains of learning tyre management skills race by race.

“I think when it comes to race pace, it’s not like you learn race pace, and it is a set of skills that then you deploy for every race,” Stella said.

It will take time for Piastri to learn

“Race pace in a race like [Japan] with high degradation, the car bouncing a little bit in some places, with high speed, low speed management, is applicable to today. But this doesn’t mean that it was the same in Hungary, or it was the same somewhere else.

“So, I think that’s why it’s a bit of a journey. And it takes time, because every situation presents its own characteristics.

“I’m sure Oscar will have learned things, and actually, I think towards the end, it was already better than it was in the second stint. So, it’s just a systematic work of cashing in all the possible learning,” the Italian maintained.

Stella insists that Piastri’s “outright speed” is what matters, and that everything else can be developed and learned with time and more experience.

“There is not a one-off learning that is applicable to every situation,” he pointed out. “But the first thing I will take is always the outright speed, which is what we have seen.

“Because when you have that, race pace and all these things are much easier to work on. Finding the edge on a single lap in Suzuka, like we saw [in qualifying], that’s more difficult,” Stella concluded.

Big Question: How long do you believe Oscar Piastri will need to develop his tyre management skills?