A difficult Bahrain Grand Prix was more promising for McLaren than the team was expecting at the start of the 2023 F1 season, even though it failed to score points.
The Brit finished as the last classified runner as a result with McLaren leaving Bahrain empty-handed.
But while the surface result was negative, there were some positive aspects to what was a difficult week in the Gulf State, which also hosted pre-season testing.
Piastri impressed on debut while the team's performance was not as bad as many feared.
“Without issues, Lando would have been a strong contender for points,” team boss Andrea Stella said.
“The pace of the car in the race was almost beyond expectation.
“I think in the race, we see some reward of the work we did over the winter in trying to improve the interaction between the car and the tyres, and this was certainly a strong position on Lando's side.
“But also Oscar actually was having good degradation in the first stint, he overtook cars.
“It was a very tight race, so we could have been in the points with both cars. That's the most positive outcome of this event.”
That was an improvement from expectations heading into the event, which looked bleak after an interrupted pre-season test that left McLaren with the lowest accumulated laps of all 10 teams.
“The race was more encouraging than I would have expected,” Stella noted.
“I thought coming [to Bahrain], I thought Q3 was difficult, but also points would have been difficult.
“But actually [in the race] we could see that they were up for grabs more easily than I thought.
“The other element though that we have to acknowledge is that not only the midfield is even tighter than last year but even racing close to the – apart from Red Bull – close to Mercedes, Aston, and even Ferrari.
“Without the Safety Car, I'm not sure there would have been people one lap down without issues.
“So I think if you race well, if we can improve the car by a few tenths like we plan to do, then we can have some enjoyable races.”