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Piastri: Very close with Mercedes, Ferrari a step ahead, Red Bull...

Piastri: Very close with Mercedes, Ferrari a step ahead, Red Bull…

Piastri: Very close with Mercedes, Ferrari a step ahead, Red Bull...

Oscar Piastri gave his view on the pecking order of the 2024 Formula 1 season, claiming there is nothing to choose between McLaren and Mercedes, both chasing Ferrari while Red Bull are out of reach.

The Australian was speaking after finishing eighth in the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, while his teammate Lando Norris finished in sixth, Lewis Hamilton separating the McLaren pair in seventh.

That came after Norris and Piastri qualified seventh and eighth for the race as the pecking order of the 2024 F1 season finally started to emerge.

While McLaren had a painful start to their 2023 season, and had to wait until midseason to improve following an impressive upgrade package, there start in 2024 has been better albeit not stellar.

From what we have seen, McLaren are now locked in a fight with Mercedes on the third best spot behind leaders Red Bull and chasers Ferrari.

Speaking to the media in Bahrain after the race in Saturday, Piastri spoke of his race, he said: “Not a bad way to start the year, compared to last year, we will definitely take it.

A personally decent race for Piastri

“The pace was more or less how I thought it would pan out. We’re I think were very close with Mercedes, Ferrari seem a bit of a step ahead, Red Bull a clear step ahead.

“We’ll see what the next few circuits have in store for us. Some quicker layouts and very different tarmac. So we’ll see if that suits us better or worse. Hopefully better. I feel like on a personal note, it was a decent race. So yeah, I’m pretty pleased,” he added.

While qualifying saw the top five teams (Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin) separated by a less than as second in Q3, Red Bull stretched the gap in the race, Max Verstappen finishing over 20 second ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez in second, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was a further 2.5s adrift in third.

The best finishing McLaren – Norris – through was almost 50s behind Verstappen, but Piastri insists the gap to Red Bull is as predicted.

“I think it [Red Bull’s pace] was a bit more realistic for what we expected to be honest,” he said. “I think, they look in a pretty similar pace to last year, you know, similar kind of gap. So not a massive surprise, to be honest.

“And in the races last year, they were always quicker than they were in qualifying. But maybe still not quite as far ahead as we first feared at the start of testing, but still a long way ahead,” a hopeful Piastri concluded.

Norris: It was a tough race

Norris, In McLaren’s post race media brief added: “It was a tough race, but I think we still had a good race with good pace, and it was a definite improvement on last year, so I think we can be happy as a team.

“I think the wind hurt us a bit today. It changed a lot from the last few days, and it felt a lot worse in some corners, but we moved forward, and it was the best we could have hoped for today. A good start to the year,” the Briton maintained.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella seemed content with the start of the season, he commented: “It’s good to begin the season with a strong performance here in Bahrain.

“We’ve been reliable, we were quick enough to fight the Mercedes today, and this allowed us to score good points at a track we know isn’t the best for the characteristics of our car.

“Oscar and Lando drove very well and consistently this evening. They made no mistakes in tricky conditions, particularly on the Hard tyres, and got our team off to a good start to 2024,” the Italian concluded.

(Reporting by Agnes Carlier in Bahrain, Writing and Additional reporting by Jad Mallak)