Piastri shows promise in Saudi Arabia

Monday 20 March, 2023
Photos: McLaren Media
Formula 1 rookie Oscar Piastri has shown promise in his second race despite not taking home any points from the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
Following a disappointing debut in Bahrain that resulted in a DNF after just 14 laps, Piastri managed to complete the full race in Jeddah, crossing the line in 15th.
However, it was his determination, raw pace and race craft throughout the whole weekend that impressed many within the F1 paddock, with the result just a case of bad luck.
Undoubtedly, the Victorian’s main highlight would have come on Saturday after he made it to the final stage of qualifying to secure a top 10 starting position – his ninth place being upgraded to eighth following Charles Leclerc’s 10-place grid penalty.
The 21-year-old would have been confident and hoping to secure his first points-paying finish, however his hopes were dashed on the opening lap after contact with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly forced him to the pits to replace his front wing.
Switching to hard compound tyres during the stop, Piastri would remain on that set of tyres for the rest of the 50-lap race, nursing his tyres on the fast track.
The biggest positive to come out of the race for Piastri would have been beating teammate Lando Norris, as well as having overtaken the Brit and former Prema Racing teammate Logan Sargent in the final laps of the race.
Piastri was also showing far more pace than his more experienced teammate, who was also given the order not to fight the Aussie after being passed.
Although it wasn’t the result Piastri was hoping for, to run the same tyre compound for 49-laps and complete some overtakes proved a positive bounce back after the forgettable debut. 
"To do 49 laps on that set of tyres was good," he told Sky Sports F1.
"After the first lap, it was always going to be tough, so the last couple of laps were a bit of entertainment, which is nice.
"I'm glad we finished the race, first and foremost, because on lap 1 I didn't think that was going to happen.

"[It's] nice to get a bit of experience and some race craft there at the end. It's what I'm out there for, to learn at the moment."  
As for the race itself, polesitter Sergio Perez led from start to finish to claim his fifth career win, beating Red Bull teammate and reigning champion Max Verstappen, who produced a stellar drive from P15 to second place. 
Rounding out the podium for the second consecutive weekend and for the 100th time in his career was Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, with the two-time world champion beating Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
The 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship’s next stop will be down under with the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on 30 March to 2 April.
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