McLaren is in the hunt for glory in Imola, says Piastri

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McLaren displayed eye-catching pace on the opening day at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, confirming their race-winning pace from the previous round in Miami.

Hot on the heels of his first grand prix victory, Lando Norris was eager to continue his impressive form. The Briton looks very quick around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, and was on course to top the second practice, but a mistake in the final segment of the track forced him to abort his lap. In the end, he took only 12th in the second practice, but his position is not representative due to his mistake.

Norris had a packed day as he not only needed to find the optimal setup for his MCL38 around the old-school track of Imola, but he had aero rakes bolted onto his car in various parts of the sessions as McLaren wanted to gather further data on the Miami upgrade package.

“It’s been a reasonable day, if a little bit disrupted in places. We had a test programme with some things to try after our upgrades in Miami, which was important to fit in. But at the same time, we had to deal with a couple of little issues here and there which made completing our plan a little bit more tricky than we were hoping for.

"However, the car felt good, I think we made some good improvements through the day and I was happy with that. Another few into tomorrow and I think we can have a good day," added Norris.

His team-mate Oscar Piastri finished only P9 in Free Practice 1, but a late qualifying simulation lap saw the Australian end the second session second just fractionally behind the pace-setting Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

The former F2 and F3 champion only received half of the upgrade package McLaren introduced two weeks ago in Florida, but he can now fully exploit the potential of the upgraded MCL38 this weekend in Imola.

“Friday done. I think it's been one of our better Fridays and we seem to be in a pretty good place. It’s very tight out there so we’ll see what we can find for tomorrow, but it’s been an encouraging day. I’ve felt pretty comfy from the first lap this morning, so I’m excited for tomorrow. The team have done a good job with getting the remaining upgrades on my car, so thank you to them.”