‘Details’ now the deciding factor in races – Stella

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says that Formula 1 has become so competitive at the front that the small details are now defining races after Lando Norris was beaten by Max Verstappen in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Norris started from pole position in Barcelona but was overtaken by both Verstappen and George Russell, with the Mercedes driver going from fourth into the lead. Verstappen passed Russell at the start of lap 3 but Norris failed to follow him through in the first stint of the race, and Stella says such moments prove crucial in a race that Verstappen eventually won by just 2.2 seconds.

“It’s the second time the gaps in qualifying are under 20 milliseconds,” Stella said. “It’s everything getting extremely tight, which means the details do become very important as you have no margin in which you can compensate any little imprecision.


“I would say that as for [the race] the main factor is that we didn’t defend the first position. In Barcelona this is not necessarily a surprise as you have such a long run to Turn 1 and the cars run high downforce so as soon as you gain a bit of slipstream it makes you so much faster than the car ahead, which meant Lando was not in condition to defend pole position.

“I actually appreciated his wise decision to stay out of trouble, the race was going to come to us, but the time lost behind Russell, it was too much. So I would say the couple of positions lost at Turn 1 and the time lost behind Russell are the two decisive factors.

“The pit stop was probably another one second, but in fairness even the one second, if we were behind Verstappen at the start, I think we could have played our cards with good chances.”

While Christian Horner tried to downplay the apparent pace advantage of the McLaren and pointed to offset tire strategies that clouded the picture, Stella says Norris was set to follow a similar strategy regardless of his track position and he believes McLaren had the best approach to the race.

“I don’t think so, I think we would have done exactly the same strategy when leading. As we are in Barcelona, we were very surprised seeing people going in on Lap 16, 17, for me that’s a bit of self-inflicted pain at this circuit as degradation is so high, and overtaking is easy.

“So actually we thought ‘this is going to bring us back in the race’ and we went for our race which we just lost a little bit too long behind Russell at the start, otherwise the race would have come to us at the end of the 66 laps.

“I’d like to praise the good work of our strategists that this is what we had in mind, and it unfolded the way we knew it would, should people just feel the pressure to go and pit. Obviously sometimes the pressure to go and pit depends on how you use your tires, sometimes you just have to pit, but here it can be very costly if you start pitting early.”

Story originally appeared on Racer