Motoring Weekly

Season finale in sight

November 22 - November 28, 2023
Gulf Weekly Season finale in sight
Gulf Weekly Season finale in sight

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri executed a solid drive during the Las Vegas Grand Prix, recovering from P18 on the grid to a final finishing position of P10, which has given the Australian racer the confidence boost he needs as he heads into the season finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

It was a difficult start to the Las Vegas Strip Circuit weekend for Piastri and team mate Lando Norris, as they were both eliminated in Q1 of Friday night’s qualifying.

Norris suffered an early exit from the race following a heavy crash while Piastri enjoyed a strong start and in the latter stages of the event found himself running in P4.

Eventually, Piastri was forced to make a pit stop, which dropped him down the order to the final points-paying position of 10th, though he also claimed an additional point by setting the fastest lap of the race.

Given the troubles McLaren had faced throughout the opening days, Piastri acknowledged that it was satisfying to bounce back with a good result.

“I think we knew we had reasonable pace,” the rookie driver said. “I think it was arguably a little bit better pace than what we expected. But yeah, it was just a shame that we kind of got caught out in qualifying and [that] made life a little bit more difficult.

“Nice to know that the car pace is still good in the race, on a circuit like this that we knew wasn’t really going to suit us very well, and yeah, hopefully Abu Dhabi we can finish the year off strong.”

It remains all to play for in the season finale, with McLaren still in a fight with Aston Martin for fourth place of the constructors’ championship.

Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is hopeful his team will have pace to return to the podium at this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, as they aim to hold off Ferrari for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Mercedes’ advantage over their Italian rivals has come down to just four points – the same as it was after 2023’s season-opening race in Bahrain back in March – after the Las Vegas Grand Prix race day which did not go their way despite the W14 showing much-improved pace compared to the race before in Brazil.

Lewis Hamilton finished seventh after losing ground twice in unfortunate collisions. And Hamilton’s teammate George Russell saw fourth place turned into eighth by a five-second penalty for colliding with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Ferrari finished second with Charles Leclerc and sixth with Carlos Sainz, meaning they outscored Mercedes by 16 points to bring themselves into striking distance in the standings for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi finale.

“I think we hopefully can recover and score solid podiums,” said Wolff. “We are going there pretty much on equal points – with a proper race director, so that should be fine - and let’s race.

“It’s all down to the last weekend. They are very quick, they have done a good job. I think we could have been on par [in the Las Vegas race] but the result shows something different. So let’s race.”

The 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place over 58 laps of the 5.281-kilometre Yas

Marina Circuit on Yas Island, will be held on Sunday (November 26).

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