McLaren qualified 16th and 19th in Las Vegas and only managed to score two points as Piastri finished 10th with the fastest lap, whilst Lando Norris crashed out of the race on the second lap. The long straights exposed the MCL60‘s weakness with drag and aerodynamic efficiency.
It was the team’s lowest scoring weekend since the Italian GP in September, following the major upgrades introduced at the Austrian GP which catapulted the Woking team to the front of the grid.
“I think definitely I think we’ve got the pace to be able to do it [beat Aston Martin],” Piastri said to media.
“I think the sentiment is quite similar to what George [Russell] was saying that if we go out and do what we’re capable of and what the car’s potential is, then we should be okay.
“But we’ve still got to go out there and do our job to get the most out of what we’ve got. Hopefully we can be quick, fighting well and truly at the front end and then the result will take care of itself.”
The Yas Marina Circuit is a different style of track to the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, with more corners and a greater demand on downforce.
McLaren have been particularly competitive at circuits with high-speed corners such as Silverstone, Suzuka and Interlagos and the Abu Dhabi track is off a similar vein, so could offset any drag penalties from the straights.
“I think we should be much more competitive,” Piastri said. “I think being at a new circuit [Las Vegas] at a drag range that we’ve struggled out through the year.
“We knew it would be a tough one for us. I think our pace, the pace that we had in the race, was much more representative of what we had available through the whole weekend. We just got a few things wrong in qualifying in particular.”
Stroll expects McLaren resurgence
Following the eighth round of the Formula 1 season in Canada, Aston Martin led McLaren by 137 points but now they’re chasing a deficit to the papaya-coloured cars and they need a big result in Abu Dhabi to overturn the points difference.
One positive for Aston Martin is they have seemingly managed to get on top of their car problems since the United States GP, recording strong points finishes including a podium at the Brazilian GP, bolstering their chances of leapfrogging McLaren in the last F1 race of the season.
“Over the last few months I think we learned from mistakes,” Lance Stroll said to the media. “[We] kind of got back to our stronger ways over the last few weeks, which has been good.
“[It’s a] tight battle now in the championship with McLaren. They’re going to probably be quick this weekend. I think they had an off weekend in [Las] Vegas, but I do expect them to be good.
“They’ve been good throughout the whole second half of the year. So we’ll see what we can do though.”