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Why McLaren are encouraged despite their Bahrain horror show

Despite a poor weekend for his team in Bahrain, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella is keen to accentuate the positive.

Norris Bahrain GP
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella says the team ended the Bahrain Grand Prix on a more optimistic note than expected – despite the Woking squad's poor performance and reliability at Sakhir.

Oscar Piastri was the season's first retirement on Lap 16, pulling off with an electrical issue, while Lando Norris was the last classified runner in 17th place, after having to pit several times during the race to manage an issue with his MCL60's engine pneumatics.

But despite a seemingly troubled start to 2023, Stella insisted there were positives to be drawn from the Bahrain Grand Prix, adding that both Piastri and Norris had had the potential to score points.

"I think the most positive element is, without issues, Lando would have been a strong contender for points. The pace of the car in the race was almost beyond expectation," Stella told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I think in the race we also saw some reward of the work we did over the winter in trying to improve the interaction between the car and the tyres.

"This was certainly a strong position on Lando's side, but also Oscar actually was having good degradation in the first stint; he overtook cars.

"It was a very tight race, so we could have been in the points with two cars – that's the most positive outcome of this event.

"The race was more encouraging than I would have expected. Before coming here, I thought Q3 was difficult, and points would have been difficult, but they were up for grasp more than I thought.

"The other element though we have to acknowledge is the midfield, not only the midfield, but even racing close – apart from Red Bull – close to Aston, Mercedes and even Ferrari.

"So I think if we race well, and can improve the car by a few tenths like we plan to do, we can have some enjoyable races soon hopefully."

McLaren upgrades imminent

Stella added that McLaren had several upgrades to the MCL60 planned for the upcoming races, with a major new package to be delivered in time for the fourth race of the season in Azerbaijan.

"There's some minor upgrades that will come already in Saudi and Australia, so little things already for the next couple of races.

"They're not necessarily very noticeable, but should add some performance here and there, and then there will be the first of the major upgrades in Baku."

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