Inside Oscar Piastri and McLaren’s Spanish Grand Prix horror show: How optimism turned to disaster as season from hell continues for Aussie and teammate Lando Norris
- Piastri finished 13th in Barcelona, Norris 17th
- Norris had qualified third in encouraging sign
- Optimism evaporated soon after race start
McLaren’s downward spiral has continued at the Spanish Grand Prix with a race-ruining early accident for Lando Norris and another afternoon scrabbling in the bottom half of the field for Oscar Piastri.
Australian rookie Piastri called it a ‘more difficult afternoon than we thought’ as all the encouraging signs from qualifying 24 hours earlier evaporated swiftly for the UK-based team at Barcelona‘s Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.
Norris had been left stunned by finishing third in qualifying and Piastri felt he would have been higher than 10th but for one mistake on his key Q3 run.
But all the promise of what Norris hailed a ‘special’ Saturday disappeared as neither driver could find the same race pace and the Englishman’s afternoon was quickly ruined by an accidental first-lap clash with Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes.
Piastri (pictured just before the race start in Barcelona) and Norris had reason to be optimistic until the lights went green – then things went downhill fast
The Aussie is 13th in the drivers’ standings with just five points from seven starts this year – and there’s little prospect of him changing that for the better soon
Norris went into the back of Hamilton within two turns and had to pit for a new front wing. He re-entered at the rear of the field, from where he managed to creep up and finish 17th.
Hamilton, meanwhile, finished runner-up to Red Bull’s runaway championship leader Max Verstappen.
‘I messed things up on lap one,’ Norris said, making it clear it hadn’t been Hamilton’s fault before painting a gloomy picture of McLaren’s prospects.
‘The pace was as expected … which was bad. I don’t think we expected anything else. We were slow and we have been all year.’
Piastri, who has impressed as a model of positivity through McLaren’s woes at the start of his debut season, tried to sound more upbeat, but it wasn’t easy.
After shocking the field by putting his McLaren into third on the grid during qualifying, nothing went right for Piastri’s teammate Lando Norris (pictured)
McLaren’s car (pictured being driven by Piastri in Spain) hasn’t seen the benefits of effective upgrades over the last few races – unlike many of its competitors
‘It was a difficult afternoon, unfortunately, more difficult than we thought,’ the 22-year-old said.
‘We knew getting into the points was going to be a bit tricky so we’ll regroup, try and find out why today was such a struggle and make sure we’re quicker next time.
‘We’ve got some things in the works, not necessarily for Canada [the next race in Montreal] but for the few races after that, so still positive.
‘But it was a tough day [among] many. I believe they say, “We may have lost the battle, but we’ll try to win the war”. We’ll try our best.’
Piastri’s results in the six races since his unlucky debut retirement have been 15th, eighth, 11th, 19th, 10th and 13th, leaving him 13th out of 20 overall in the drivers’ championship, having garnered just five points.
The much more experienced Norris is not faring a good deal better, sitting 11th on 12 points.
‘A lot of teams have brought upgrades to the last few races and we haven’t,’ Norris said.
‘We are not expecting anything more than we are doing and if we get in the points it is an amazing day – but the expectation is that we won’t.’