Impressive Piastri scores points in Vegas
Sunday 19 November, 2023
Photo: McLaren Media
Oscar Piastri has salvaged two vital points in a spectacular Las Vegas Grand Prix that saw Max Verstappen beat polesitter Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez to secure his 18th win of the season.
Starting the inaugural race from the back row following a forgettable Friday where he qualified in P19, Piastri ended up finishing the 50-lap race in 10th place after two impressive stints on the hard-compound tyres.
Under the lights of the famous Las Vegas strip, the McLaren rookie made a brilliant start to the race as he avoided the opening lap chaos to climb half a dozen spots and slot into 13th place.
Piastri then found himself in 12th place at the end of the Virtual Safety Car period before McLaren teammate Lando Norris crashed out just one lap after the restart.
The crash brought out another safety car, which halted the race for a couple of laps and saw multiple teams rush into the pits, elevating Piastri to 11th.
Once the race got underway again, Piastri began to charge up the field, making great passes on Yuki Tsunoda, Niko Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargent to slot into seventh place after just 15 laps.
Contact with Lewis Hamilton on lap 17 resulted a puncture for the Aussie, but quick thinking saw him slide into the pits almost instantly and back out to the race in 16th. The premature pit stop didn’t prove too costly though as by lap 22, he was back in the top 10.
Getting the most out of his hard tyres, Piastri made it as a high as third place before being overtaken by Verstappen and dropping to fourth – where he spent a large portion the race.
Piastri was eventually brought into the pits on lap 42 for the mandatory tyre compound switch - coming out in P11 and dropping down to P12 behind Alex Albon with six laps to go.
However, on fresh medium tyres, it didn’t take long for Piastri to pass Albon back into 11th before spending the remaining five laps chasing down Pierre Gasly, who was 10 seconds ahead.
Not only did Piastri pass the Frenchman with one lap to spare, he also picked up the bonus fastest lap on the way to doing so – capping off a decent night out for the Aussie.
It was a far less memorable race for fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, who finished where he started in P14.
The same couldn’t be said for Verstappen and Red Bull, as the Dutchman became the first driver to win three races within a country a single season, while Red Bull surpassed Mercedes’ single-season record of 19 wins, set in 2016.
With Aston Martin scoring two top 10 finishes in Vegas, Piastri’s two points helped McLaren stay ahead in the Constructors’ Championship, with 11 points the difference ahead of the season finale.
The Formula 1 World Championship’s final round of the 2023 season will be next weekend in the United Arab Emirates for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.