McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says the positives of another podium at the United States Grand Prix are offset by mixed feelings about wanting to take the next step and finally win a race.
Lando Norris finished third in Austin before being promoted to second by Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification, extending his run of podiums to four in a row, with Oscar Piastri also finishing twice on the podium in that time. After the team led much of the first part of Sunday’s race, Stella admits being close to a win but not having the developments in the pipeline to make the final step is bittersweet, although he was pleasantly surprised by the car’s performance at Circuit of the Americas.
“To some extent we almost have mixed feelings,” Stella had. “We are celebrating a podium, but at the same time after the first stint it looked like we could have enough pace to finally grasp the victory.
“I would like to reaffirm that we are very happy with a podium and this is something that after the initial feeling of ‘Oh, shame, we didn’t win it’, everyone recognizes the proportion of adding a sequence of podiums in this season thinking about where we started from. But I also like this determination where we now look for the next step.
“We are realistic that this season we are not going to have any magic in terms of car development to actually add the lap time or add the improvement from a tire degradation point of view that will change things around significantly.
“But at the same time, we were not expecting this (Austin) track to be one in which we were leading the race for an entire stint and a half. So we look forward to the coming races and hopefully we can succeed.”
Norris himself believes it’s still slow-speed corners that prove the difference between McLaren and the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes.
“I think in qualifying the new tires mask a lot of our issues,” Norris said. “But, if you look at the overlays and the GPS of how much time we lose in slow-speed corners, I’m surprised to still be able to race them on a day like (Sunday), so I’m very happy. I know I wish for a little bit more when you lead so much of the race, but I didn’t think we could have done much more.”