Oscar Piastri: McLaren a step ahead of competitors

Both drivers believe that the Albert Park Circuit favours the McLaren as they weigh up their chances of success at the Australian Grand Prix

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Qualifying for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix saw McLaren achieve their best collective result of the season so far, placing ahead of both Mercedes and Aston Martin drivers. 

Lando Norris will start the race from third whilst home hero Oscar Piastri starts behind Norris in fifth, with both drivers gaining a position as a result of Sergio Perez’s three-place grid penalty for impeding

“I think it’s been a strong weekend for us,” said Piastri. “It kind of feels like every session you go into at the moment, everyone is very mixed up. 

“Some sessions Mercedes look very quick, some sessions the Astons look very quick, some we look very quick. I mean Red Bull always look very quick. But for the teams fighting for sort of third at the moment, it’s a bit of an unknown. 

“But I feel like this weekend, we’ve been a bit of a step in front of Mercedes and Aston Martin, which has been good.”

Whilst both drivers believe McLaren has the edge over Mercedes and Aston Martin, it’s a fact that Norris has attributed to the characteristics of the Albert Park Circuit, which he believes plays into the hands of the MCL38.

“It’s just a slightly different layout of circuit potentially played into our favour a bit more than some others,” said Norris.

“But nothing more than that. We’re not going to really do anything differently to what we did [in Saudi Arabia], so it’s just a different track layout, different tarmac, just a different weekend.”

Can McLaren score a podium?

With Norris starting third as a result of Perez‘s grid drop, a podium finish is well within reach for the Woking-based team. But doing so will involve fending off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who starts behind Norris, as well as Perez, who will be looking to re-gain the positions he lost.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Piastri believes McLaren must focus on holding position above all.

“I think we looked pretty strong in our race test yesterday,” said Piastri. “But the cars around us also look strong, or at least the cars in front of us. So I think to beat Red Bull and Ferrari, I’m going to need to find something extra or, or have a bit of good fortune. 

“I think honestly, if we can finish around where we start and not not go further backwards, that would obviously be a good day for us on Sunday. So we’ll try our best. It’s optimistic stuff, I know, but I think that’s just where we sit at the moment.”

Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsport in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. She has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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