Oscar Piastri burned by McLaren gamble at 'miserable' Miami GP

McLaren's fortunes are changing from one round to the next, leaving Oscar Piastri with it all to do.

Oscar Piastri walks down pit lane.
Oscar Piastri was forced to manage a brake problem in his McLaren for almost the entire Miami GP, eventually finishing 19th. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

It was an F1 weekend to forget for Oscar Piastri at the Miami GP, with McLaren once again off the pace for the entire weekend - compounded by a brake issue for the 21-year-old Aussie. Piastri finished 19th in Miami, ahead of only Williams rookie Logan Sargeant, with teammate Lando Norris ahead in 17th.

Hopes had been high in the McLaren garage after a promising weekend at the Azerbaijan GP the week earlier, in which upgrades to the car appeared to finally give the two drivers some much needed pace and downforce. Norris managed to finish 9th in a sign of improvement, but Piastri had the misfortune of a stomach bug throughout the weekend - but still finished 11th in an impressive display.

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That bad luck lingered for Piastri in Miami, as whatever had worked for McLaren in Baku abandoned them upon their arrival in Florida, despite a fully healthy Pisatri being better able to race this time out. Neither of the McLarens made it out of the first qualifying session, prompting the team to make a brave choice.

The rest of the field started the grand prix on either the medium of the hard tyre - but McLaren bucked tradition convention and started their drivers on soft tyres. The hope was that Norris and Piastri would have a significant grip advantage early in the race, before changing to hard tyres during their mandatory pitstop and hoping they could maintain track position.

The early returns were good, with Piastri making up five places on the first lap - but it was never going to last. Before too long, both drivers were struggling for grip and their early gains were lost in the pits.

Insult was added to injury for Piastri, who was later instructed to let his teammate past after a mechanical problem emerged with his brakes - not enough to force a retirement, but a race ruining development nonetheless. F1 commentator Ted Kravitz had some sympathy for the Aussie's luckless weekend.

“He’s having a bit of a miserable race. He does have brakes but he has a long brake issue and he’s dropping further behind his teammate,” he said on the Sky F1 broadcast.

McLaren team principal Andreas Stella credited Piastri for his immense skill in bringing the car home in one piece. He said the team had considered retiring the car, but Piastri had demonstrated he could manage the issue to the end of the race.

“He needed to drive the entire race with a problem on the brake-by-wire, which Oscar was excellent in being able to cope with,” Stella said after the race. “After having locked the tyres for three, four times, he kind of realised how he needed to adapt the way he was braking to the issue.”

Max Verstappen wins from 9th on the grid in Miami

Meanwhile, reigning champion Max Verstappen started from ninth after a miscalculation in Saturday's qualifying, which ended early after a big spin from Charles Leclerc. He the proceeded to pull off one of the most impressive of his 38 F1 wins, having also triumphed in Miami last year.

Perez, the winner in Azerbaijan a week ago, could not hold on having begun on pole in Florida, with Red Bull allowing the pair to race in the closing stages. Fernando Alonso, 41, finished third for Aston Martin for the fourth time this season.

Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso are pictured on the F1 podium.
Max Verstappen won the Miami GP ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, and Fernando Alonso. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategul T/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Double champion Verstappen has won three and Perez two of the five races so far this year, and a title fight between teammates is now on the cards in the 23-race season. Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton began 13th on the grid after struggling in qualifying and finished the race in sixth as Mercedes ended a difficult weekend on a better note.

His teammate George Russell ended up fourth. The race was one largely to forget for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz given a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane, leaving the Spaniard to finish fifth, with teammate Leclerc seventh.

With AAP

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