Monday, March 4, 2024

Oscar Piastri: Qatar “was definitely the hardest race I’ve had in my life”

McLaren F1 Team’s Oscar Piastri came in second at the physically demanding Qatar Grand Prix and took his second Grand Prix podium of the season. 

Starting from sixth after losing his best lap to a track limits violation, the Australian driver made up four positions in the first turn in the scramble resulting from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s collision. 

Piastri was able to keep second place secured through the race, which was defined by treacherously hot conditions and a rule imposed that limited new tyre usage to eighteen laps due to durability concerns at Lusail International Circuit

The tyre life limitations set allowed drivers to push to the limit throughout the race, which Piastri said made the race feel like equivalent to “57 qualifying laps.”

“Very, very happy. Turn 1 was nice. That was in the game-plan before the race. We had a really impressive pace. It was definitely the hardest race I’ve had in my life. It was hot and basically flat-out the entire time. It was 57 qualifying laps, which I definitely feel that I’ve done. A really good race.

“My thanks go to the team for providing Lando and myself with a car that means we can fight at the front more consistently. There were some great strategy calls today, brilliant pit-stops and despite the challenging conditions, we were able to put it all together on the day. A great day.” 

“It was just a mega race from start to finish” – Lando Norris

It was a climb from tenth place to a podium for team-mate Lando Norris, whose qualifying was likewise disrupted by track limits. Norris said that McLaren likely had the best pace of all the teams in Qatar.

The British driver said that he reviewed and learned from his unideal sprint race start, and changed his strategy coming off the line on Sunday. This allowed him to gain positions on the opening lap and set himself up for a strong race, which he felt was made more strenuous by the three-stop regulation. 

“It was just a mega race from start to finish. We had a good opening lap. I learned from my mistake yesterday of going wide, I said I’d go tight, and I did, and it worked out. 

“So, a good start, we had good pace throughout the whole thing. Probably the best pace out there today, so I’m happy. Stressful, hot, sweaty, little bit tired but a great job for the team. Three in a row now. A 1.8 second pit-stop as well!

“I think the three-stop made it a lot harder physically. You could push a lot more. Even the last stint, you could pretty much push flat-out. This was one of the hardest races I’ve done, but it’s a nice challenge and congrats to Oscar. Thank you to the team for their incredible work to put us in this position.” 

Credit: McLaren Media Centre