Australia’s Oscar Piastri scores first Formula One podium

Australia’s Oscar Piastri scores first Formula One podium
Australia’s Oscar Piastri scores first Formula One podium

Australia’s latest Formula One talent – Melbourne-born Oscar Piastri – has scored his first Top Three finish in his maiden F1 season during this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Australian Formula One rookie Oscar Piastri has recorded his first podium finish in his debut season in motorsport’s top category in the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix this afternoon.

The 22-year-old Melburnian has impressed in his first 16 races in Formula One, after making his debut at the start of this year with McLaren, replacing fellow Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo.

After qualifying second fastest ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, Piastri crossed the finish line in third place behind Norris.

Reigning champion Max Verstappen, driving for Red Bull Racing, notched up his 13th victory of the season after qualifying fastest.

Verstappen’s win was enough to hand Red Bull Racing its second consecutive constructors’ championship title – and sixth in the team’s history – with six races to go, despite team-mate Sergio Perez retiring late in the race.

The Melbourne-born rookie becomes only the sixth Australian to finish on the podium in Formula One, alongside Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber, Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and Tim Schenken.

He is also the first Formula One driver to finish on the podium in his rookie season since Lance Stroll in 2017.

Piastri started the race beside pole-sitter Verstappen after qualifying in second place on Saturday, but lost the position and slipped to third behind Norris heading into the first corner.

The Australian driver moved ahead of his British team-mate through an advantageous pit stop early in the race, before they swapped positions on Lap 27 after Norris complained on the radio of being quicker than, and held up behind Piastri.

The pair crossed the line second and third respectively, for McLaren’s first double podium result since Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished the 2021 Italian Grand Prix in first and second positions two years ago.

By the end of the race Norris extended his lead over Piastri to 17 seconds – but the British driver was more than 19 seconds behind race winner Verstappen.

“It feels very special, definitely. I’ll remember it for a very, very long time,” Piastri said after the race in a post-race interview on the official Formula One race broadcast.

“I can’t thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity. There’s not many people in the world that get this opportunity in their whole life and I’ve managed to have it in my first season.

“Thank you very much to the team. It wasn’t my best race ever but it was enough to get a trophy at the end, so [I’m] super happy.”

When asked if there were any tricky moments in the race – or close calls – Piastri said: “The move on [Mercedes-AMG driver] George [Russell], I knew I had to get past otherwise I was going to get stuck for a while, so that one was a bit close.

“But our pace after that was very strong, and in the second half of the race I got more into a groove, into a rhythm and the pace was a bit better.”

It is the Australian rookie’s first podium finish in an official Formula One Grand Prix, though Piastri finished second in a shorter, Saturday ‘Sprint’ race at the Belgian Grand Prix in July.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc held off Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton for fourth, while three laps before the chequered flag Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr overtook the Mercedes of George Russell for sixth place.

The post Australia’s Oscar Piastri scores first Formula One podium appeared first on Drive.

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