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Oscar Piastri

McLaren eye opportunity thanks to Suzuka 'unknowns'

Oscar Piastri finished eighth and first in the two Friday sessions at Suzuka, with Lando Norris 10th and sixth.

Piastri Japan FP2
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To news overview © XPBimages

Oscar Piastri is intrigued to see if McLaren is able to "replicate" its Australian GP showing after a promising Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Although he only finished eighth in FP1, Piastri felt the red flag for Logan Sargeant's accident had prevented him from showing the true pace of the MCL38, with the Melbourne-native then topping a rain-impacted second session.

McLaren was tipped to perform well at the high-speed Suzuka circuit, having secured a two-three in the 2023 race, with Piastri grabbing his first F1 podium.

Last time out in Australia, the team finished three-four behind both Ferraris, and although Piastri felt it was difficult to get a true read on the pecking order, he felt encouraged enough to declare McLaren in the fight at the front.

Opportunity knocks for McLaren

"The red flag in the first practice session and then the rain in the second one meant that there wasn’t much track running on the first day of practice," said Stella.

"That’s a shame for the super F1 fans who came to the Suzuka circuit today, but hopefully the remainder of the weekend will be busier on track.

"The limited running leaves some unknowns in terms of car setup and also, to some extent, tyre behaviour for the rest of the weekend.

"However, this is the same for everyone and may also present an opportunity."

For his part, Piastri was encouraged by the pace of his MCL38, and is intrigued to see if the team can replicate its pace from Australia, where it captured a three-four finish.

"We learned a few bits and pieces, and I think we are in decent shape, but it is hard to know," Piastri explained.

"In FP1, the timing of the red flag was awkward for us, so it is a bit hard to know where we stand, but I think it is about where we have been.

"We've got a competitive car, and I think it will be interesting to see to see if we can replicate what we had in Australia.

"Obviously this was a good track for us last year, but other people have gained with their strengths and we will see what we can do.

"But we are reasonably optimistic of being at the front."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying