Formula 1: Despite McLaren’s woes, there is optimistic potential

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Formula 1 (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)
Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Formula 1 (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Even though McLaren had fairly high expectations coming into the 2023 Formula 1 season, there is no reason to lose hope after a tough first race.

McLaren turned out to be runner-up of “the best of the rest” during the 2022 Formula 1 season, and that is no small achievement. As they come into this season, they ride with a young driver lineup of 23-year-old Lando Norris and 21-year-old Oscar Piastri.

Despite their combined youth, the expectations for the duo are the same: to come out victorious in the battle for “the best of the rest”.

McLaren’s performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix was quite disastrous. Oscar Piastri was forced to retire after an electrical issue with the steering mechanism, resulting in a 20th place finish.

Lando Norris was hit with a pressure leak right from the start, which forced him to pit six times to temporarily fix the issue. Norris was able to finish the race, but in 17th place. He was the only driver to get lapped twice by Max Verstappen, which is something McLaren do not want to see.

However, Formula 1 fans should not give up on McLaren just yet.

Reliability is usually not a problem for them. Last season, the team had a combined five DNFs throughout the season; two for Lando Norris and three for Daniel Ricciardo.

Speaking of Ricciardo, fans were quite livid after Piastri qualified 19th. Many were referring to the fact that McLaren paid the elder Australian nearly $20 million to make way for the rookie. Nevertheless, there are still many who have touted Piastri’s talent and potential to succeed.

Even though the MCL60’s grand prix debut was not pleasant, there is plenty of opportunity to rebound for McLaren. Once it was learned that Norris’ race was gone, considering he had to box every 10 laps, he was still instructed to finish so the team could gather more data on the car for further analysis and improvements.

Despite pace proving to be a bit of an issue for McLaren during the practice sessions and qualifying, glimpses of potential for the car were shown. Upon the conclusion of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Norris gave an assessment of the team’s race. Despite the issues, he did say what could have happened, had the MCL60 been problem-free.

“I think the pace was actually OK-ish today as well,” he said. “We could have scored a point today, at least. It’s a shame we had the problems.”

McLaren’s issues do raise eyebrows, but they are issues that can easily be resolved. As the young duo ease into the season and upgrade packages are brought to the car, they will get closer to being on pace and fighting for double points finishes throughout the season.

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McLaren will look to bounce back in Jeddah after a disastrous start to their season. ESPN is set to broadcast the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live from Jeddah Corniche Circuit beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 19, so begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!