Oscar Piastri dudded by 'horrible' luck in Azerbaijan Grand Prix 'shame'

The McLaren driver had worked his way into a good position against the odds, before two split-second moments cost him dearly.

Contact between Alex Albon and Oscar Piastri is highlighted on the left, with Piastri pictured right.
Oscar Piastri missed out on points in F1's Azerbaijan GP, after his race was compromised by lap one contact with Williams driver Alex Albon. Pictures: Formula 1/Getty Images

Formula One can sometimes be a particularly cruel sport, as Oscar Piastri found out at the Azerbaijan GP in Baku. Despite turning in two terrific drives in both the sprint race and the grand prix, the 22-year-old walked away without a single point.

Notwithstanding the bad luck Piastri endured on track, the McLaren driver was also battling an illness which his manager, former F1 race winner Mark Webber, said had resulted in him being several kilograms lighter by the end of the round. Piastri finished 13th after qualifying an impressive 10th, with his race compromised both by lap one contact and later, a slow pitstop.

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Piastri had finished 10th in the sprint race, but missed out on points as only the top eight finishers are rewarded in the championship standings. Still, with a good starting point on the Baku street circuit, one which favours the McLaren's straight-line speed, Piastri had reason to be optimistic before the lights went out.

However just three corners in Piastri's race was compromised, with a slight nudge from Williams driver Alex Albon enough to unsettle the McLaren and lose momentum, dropping him down to 13th place. Piastri's bad luck continued when his slow pitstop was compounded by the safety car being called just moments after he emerged from the pit lane - putting him at a major disadvantage compared to rivals who were yet to make their stops.

Still, the Melbourne-born driver persisted, regaining two places on track to finish 11th, three seconds adrift of Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda and behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris, who finished 9th. Piastri was upbeat after the race, thanking the team doctor over the radio after crossing the line, after suffering some ill-fated luck described as 'horrible' by commentators.

“Shame to be P11 but we didn’t have the pace," he said. “Sorry I haven’t seen most of you this weekend. Big shout-out too to the Doc!”

Piastri reportedly had only three pieces of toast to eat throughout the entire race weekend, such was the effect of the stomach bug he was grappling with. Despite the race results adding insult to injury, Piastri said there had still been plenty to take away from the weekend.

"I'm feeling not too bad. I think the adrenaline is doing a very good job," Piastri told F1 TV after the race. "Shame to be one spot away from the points.

"I think I still learned a lot about time management in this race, so definitely not a waste. Happy to get to the end of the weekend, to be completely honest. Still a lot we can learn and a lot we can look at after the weekend."

Perez claims F1 victory as Verstappen hurt by safety car

Piastri wasn't the only driver to suffer misfortune at the hands of the safety car deployment, with championship leader Max Verstappen brought undone by the timing as well. His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was able to pit under the safety car as debris after Alpha Tauri driver Nyck De Vries hit the wall, inheriting the lead as a result and hanging on until the end.

However the race was marred by a 'terrifying' moment towards the end when Alpine's Esteban Ocon came into the pits and was confronted by the scary sight of people standing in front of him. The French driver waited until the very end of the race to complete his mandatory pit-stop, but officials appeared to think none of the drivers would be pitting so late.

Sergio Perez celebrates after winning the Azerbaijan GP.
Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan GP ahead of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

A group of staff and photographers had been let onto the track to set up the post-race ceremony, resulting in terrifying scenes when Ocon came into the pits. No one was injured in the farcical scenes, but Ocon was left fuming.

“I’m arriving at 300km/h, breaking very late, and I see the barriers, I see the people around. This is crazy,” he said.

“Could have been a big, big one today. This is definitely something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we don’t want to see.

“Scary moment at the end there in the pit-lane. Glad no one was hurt but we must ensure things like that don’t happen again."

The FIA later announced that track representatives had been summoned to the stewards in the aftermath of the incident, and acknowledged that a “very dangerous situation” had occurred. The stewards wrote in their verdict: “We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today.

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