McLaren trio discuss the driver swap in F1 Australian GP, as Lando Norris and Andrea Stella add on the strategy call in P2 fight.

With Max Verstappen out of picture in F1 Australian GP, it gave a chance for the likes of Ferrari and McLaren to fight it out not just for podium places, but also a race win. They even left Mercedes and Aston Martin behind, with both not having the ultimate pace.

Once Verstappen was done so, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz assumed the lead. He dominated the situation which opened up the fight for second and third. It was Norris initially in second but his strategy to go long undone for him where he lost out to Charles Leclerc.

McLaren were gunning Leclerc with Oscar Piastri but the Australian couldn’t keep up with the Monegasque. Norris came close in the second stint but once again, the Ferrari crew went for an early stop which worked in their favour to keep the Brit behind.

Post-race, Norris thought McLaren could have pitted before Leclerc to have a go in the fight for second but team boss Stella noted about unpredictable scenario with degradation and tyre performance of the hard compound, which wasn’t tested as much.

And so they decided to play a bit safe with Norris, while going aggressive with Piastri. Overall, both Norris and Stella were pumped to secure third and eventually fourth too with Piastri, as they managed to beat the Red Bull of Sergio Perez in the process.

There was also a key moment of McLaren swap between Norris and Piastri, where both drivers stated of it being the fair and logical call considering the different strategy. Stella said it wasn’t even strategy or case of team orders per se, but just part of execution.

Swap with Piastri –

Norris: “It depends how you look at it. I was a lot quicker, and I would have overtaken him anyway. It’s just you don’t want to delay the process of that happening. And the longer I kind of spent behind him, the worse it was making my chance of catching Charles and trying to be ahead of Charles. So yeah, I don’t think the result changed at all. He made my life easier and I think he helped us as a team which I thank him for a lot and we have a lot of respect for one another in these kind of situations. But I don’t think the result changed at all. But yeah, for any driver who’s racing in front of their home fans, you want to be on the podium. So I don’t think, yeah, I would ever take anything away from that or for what Oscar has provided and helped for in the team. But I don’t think the end result changed, no matter what.”

How race panned out –

Norris: “I think when you take the Red Bull out of it I would say, no. I think our pace has been good all weekend. We put things together very nicely yesterday. We showed a good long run and high-fuel pace on Friday. So I wouldn’t have said we had no chance. I didn’t expect probably us to be competing against the Ferraris today. I think our pace was not as good as Carlos, but probably better than Charles. So I think if I was being honest we maybe missed out a little bit on an opportunity to be P2 today. But yeah, for us to say that is a good sign. And I think it’s a good positive for the whole team. It’s a good boost. It’s nice to be back on the podium. Whether or not the Red Bull was there or not our pace was good today and hopefully that continues for more races.”

Strategy situation to catch Leclerc –

Norris: “I mean, we didn’t leave anything on the table but yeah the lap we were going to undercut, he boxed. So then again you have to go off and do kind of a different strategy. We got close in the second stint. I got very close. If I boxed, I think I would have undercut. But he boxed, so I missed that opportunity. So you always think, what happens if we did it one lap earlier? But it’s tough to make all those decisions at the time. And it can easily go wrong at the same time. There are always consequences of doing so. I think we still did a very good job today. Third and fourth for us, as a team, is positive and a good load of points. But they were clearly a better team, and they have a better car at the minute. So whether or not we could beat them, they have a better car, they have a quicker car, and we have to work harder until we can match what they’re doing.”

Fair to be asked to swap –

Piastri: “For me, it was completely fair. He qualified in front of me yesterday, went a bit longer on the first stop and he was catching me and was quicker at that point of the race. At that point, I was keeping with Leclerc and Lando was catching both of us, so I was honestly kind of hoping he’d be past me and go and get Charles. For me, it was completely fair. Of course, at home, I would have loved to be able to stay in third. But for me, that was completely fair.”

Chance of podium –

Piastri: “I don’t think I got ahead of myself. I think, of course I knew it was a possibility at one point and if I was quick enough in the middle then it could have been a reality but with the different strategies we had, the tyre difference, in terms of stop lap, I was expecting Lando to be quicker at that point and he was. So, would have loved to be one spot higher but I think for the team, it has been an amazing weekend and honestly very with the gap to Ferrari especially being a lot small this weekend.”

Strong weekend overall –

Piastri: “I think for me it’s been a strong weekend. A couple of mistakes when it mattered which is a bit frustrating but today’s been a solid result. A little bit of an off in the middle of the end of the second stint, and grained the tyres a little bit there as well, so just struggled a bit in that part of the race. I just couldn’t really get them back, so some things to learn and go through and see what I could have done a bit better. Apart from that it was a pretty strong day.”

Driver swap –

Stella: “I would say that swap wasn’t even strategic. That was executional. Like, the swap would have happened naturally because Lando had much fresher tyres. And for what I said before, here every one lap you gain on tyres make your car much much faster than somebody that stopped before you because the tyres lose almost like between half a tenth and one tenth per lap, right? So Lando was always gonna overtake Oscar. We called the swap to avoid that this comes to unnecessary racing that, you know, it’s an unfair racing, because Lando had much, much fresher tyres. That’s also why we weren’t worried that Lando kind of had gone long in the first thing, because we knew that with the fresher tyres, we could caught up on Leclerc. But despite having fresher tyres, actually, we didn’t catch Leclerc enough. This is why I’m saying Ferrari were quick .”

Strategy with Norris for Leclerc –

Stella: “It was possible, but that was very very early in the race with a high degree of uncertainty of the behaviour of the hard tyres. And we saw that certainly some big cars that didn’t look quick at all because it was not working well with the tyres, one is Red Bull of Perez. We actually went for this aggressive strategy trying to pass Leclerc with Oscar. But Leclerc decided to go at the same time potentially by listening to our radio. This also meant Leclerc and Oscar would have gone below two cars.

“With Lando in a strong position, we thought that was an unnecessary risk we would have taken, we already took it with Oscar before, and knowing that if tyre degrade, ultimately the race is to come to you at the end. And you will recover the position that you may lose at lap eight, like it’s lap eight of 58. There’s another 50 that, I think, Leclerc finished ahead of Lando because they have a faster car at the moment. And the positive news today is that this faster car is not faster by much at all. We were very close, which I think is encouraging for Japan in which some of the characteristics that make Australia being good for us take another step farther in having more higher ratio of medium high speed compared to low speed.”

Here’s how F1 Australian GP panned out

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