[McLaren eager to avoid any more Norris/Piastri F1 team orders
With its two drivers on slightly offset strategies at Suzuka, McLaren had to ask Piastri to let Norris through at one point to ensure that they did not waste time fighting each other and risk squandering the team’s prospects for a double podium finish.
The latest call to get the drivers to help each other came after similar team orders requests at the Hungarian and Italian Grands Prix.
McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has no doubts that the team has done the right thing in swapping its drivers around when needed, but he accepts it is something he is not eager to happen all the time.
Asked how the Japan call compared to those made in Hungary and Italy, Stella said: “It was much, much easier in a way, as those two situations were stressful, especially the one in Monza.
“And when I say stressful, I mean stressful because we created stress between our two drivers, which we could have avoided, really.
“That’s something that we reviewed. It may happen again in the future, but when it is avoidable, we should avoid it.
“In this case, the approach was, let’s see how fast Lando is closing, and let’s see if the overtaking comes naturally.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Lando Norris, McLaren, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
“When we saw that it doesn’t come so natural, then we asked the drivers to swap, so that we wouldn’t lose race time for both.”
Stella thinks that the pace difference between Norris and Piastri in the Japanese GP, at the stage of the race when the team had to intervene, was exaggerated by the excessive tyre degradation.
“In a race like this, every lap of tyre that you save, so if you pit one lap later than somebody else, you gain one tenth,” added Stella.
“Lando at that stage pitted six laps later, so his car is automatically six tenths quicker than the other car.
“Also, in addition to that, I have to say that Lando’s pace was very good in absolute terms. And if anything, we have to look with Oscar at where we could have gained the one or two tenths overall pace that he seemed to lack compared to Lando.”