McLaren issue defence over team order option

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has moved to defend his squad’s decision to swap their cars during the Australian Grand Prix.

Shortly after the retirements of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Melbourne, Oscar Piastri found himself running third in the order behind the leading Ferrari pair.

Norris, who pitted several laps after Piastri, closed up to the back of his team-mate and asserted over team radio that he had more pace.

A position swap came on lap 29 as Piastri conceded third place to Norris before the Briton pulled away to consolidate the final spot on the podium.

Piastri admitted after the race that it was a “fair” call for the team to make while Stella highlighted the details behind the decision.

“I would say that swap wasn’t even strategic,” Stella told media including RacingNews365. “That was executional.

“The swap would have happened naturally because Lando had much fresher tyres.”

‘Lando was always going to overtake Oscar’

Although the decision denied Piastri the chance of a home podium result, McLaren was confident its only chance to take second place was with Norris.

“Here, every one lap you gain on tyres makes your car much, much faster than somebody who stopped before you because the tyres lose almost between half a tenth and one-tenth per lap,” Stella said.

“Lando was always going to overtake Oscar. We called the swap to avoid that this comes to unnecessary racing, unfair racing – Lando had much, much fresher tyres.

“That’s also why we weren’t worried that Lando had gone long in the first stint because we knew that we had the fresher tyres, we could have caught up on Leclerc.

“But despite having fresh eyes, actually, we didn’t catch Leclerc enough. This is why I’m saying Ferrari was quick.”


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