McLaren have asked their drivers to challenge them against team orders after latest round in F1 Qatar GP where Lando Norris was asked to hold station.
There was another round of team orders at McLaren in F1 Qatar GP when Norris was asked to hold station behind Oscar Piastri. The Brit argued about it on the radio noting the pace advantage he had, but was eventually asked to maintain the position.
He did close up to Piastri but kept third to secure a solid McLaren 2-3. The drivers along with team boss Andrea Stella played down the team orders situation. In fact, the Italian revealed about the F1 team’s protocol when team orders situation arises.
They have asked the drivers to challenge them with a solid argument. But if the argument is not strong enough, the drivers will have to adhere to the team orders which is what happened in Qatar GP as well when Norris initially questioned the team.
Stella also explained that they didn’t wish to create dramas allowing drivers to push and fight for places as there was danger of tyre failures. “The message you heard, this is part of our protocol I would say because when we give drivers an instruction, we tell them challenge us because we want to make sure we understand your point of view,” he said.
“Like challenge us, tell us exactly what you think, we will re-assess the situation and come back to you. But once we come back to you, just respect it. And this is exactly what happened in the race, so that’s why you hear back. We ask drivers to challenge us. The drivers have been very close all weekend within the space of couple of tenths.
“Even in the race, they were again very close. It is a mega result for McLaren, Lando progressed from P10 to the podium and we are in a place in which we don’t have to forget that in 2021, Lando was P4 I think and few laps to go, he had a tyre failure. And he finished P9.
“So you just don’t want to take this risk, you don’t want to induce your drivers to push and then have a track limit penalty or as soon as you tell them to push, they use the kerbs because it makes the track so much faster. We just recommend to stay from kerbs and think about bringing it home and both drivers understood it very well and Lando was very happy.
“In the in-lap, he was very complimentary with the team, so it is a point of strength that our drivers help us manage this situation so proactively and constructively,” summed up the McLaren F1 chief, as indeed the drivers were happy with the results which further solidified their hold in the championship as they close in on Aston Martin.
In fact, Piastri was fine either ways if he was asked to give up at one point. “I was a little bit surprised to be honest,” he said. “I would have accepted it either way. But obviously there was a lot of concerns about tyres and track limits and stuff. So yeah, I think getting second and third for the team was the most important thing.”
Norris, meanwhile wasn’t sure if he would have finished second even if McLaren allowed them to race. “Whenever I got a bit closer towards Oscar, the dirty air was quite a big struggle,” he said. “Like, even with the backmarkers, as soon as you got within three seconds or something, you immediately lost time.
“Around a circuit where it’s so much about load and these long corners, as soon as you have a bit of dirty air, it’s a big struggle. So I think my pace was definitely a bit better. But it’s hard to know. And I mean, Oscar has done a very good job this weekend. He’s beaten me. He’s been extremely quick and he’s made less mistakes, and he’s come out on top. So hats off to him too,” summed up Norris.
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