Oscar Piastri at centre of 'painful' drama in Australian Grand Prix 'shame'

The Aussie driver qualified in 16th place for his home Grand Prix after a brutal qualifying session.

Oscar Piastri, pictured here after being eliminated in the first qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri was eliminated after the first qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix. Image: F1/Getty

Oscar Piastri's first taste of racing a home Formula One Grand Prix ended painfully on Saturday, with the Aussie set to start from 16th place on the grid on Sunday. Max Verstappen took pole position for the Australian GP, lowering the track record four times on Saturday to stamp his favouritism for Sunday's race.

But it was a completely different story for Piastri, who was eliminated in Q1 at his home event. The 21-year-old McLaren driver was cut from the field after the first of the three phases of qualifying and will start Sunday's race in 16th spot.

'DON'T WANT THAT': Daniel Ricciardo's huge call on F1 future

$112 MILLION CALL: Mercedes facing major Lewis Hamilton problem

"We adjusted the front wing a little bit for the last run and maybe it wasn't the best," he said. "A little bit of inexperience on my side potentially ... it wasn't the best preparation.

"All weekend it has been difficult to get the first lap going with the tyres because it's so cold. What we did was fine, just not quite good enough.

“Not quite the session I wanted, obviously. We’ve said the whole season how incredibly tight it is, especially with the teams around us that we‘re fighting at the moment.

“I went and had a look and really it was one corner where I lost all of my time. A shame. Overall, it’s been a good weekend and nice experience so far, but just one corner was where it all went away today.”

McLaren's difficult start to the F1 season continued as Lando Norris qualified in 13th place. “I would say the car was also trickier to drive, more difficult to put clean laps together,” team principal Andrea Stella said. “That’s why you hear from Oscar and Lando saying that they left some time here and there.

“I think that‘s ultimately not their responsibility; they pushed the car, but the car was tricky, especially braking, so we definitely have quite a lot of work to do. But this is in line with what we knew already.”

Speaking in commentary, Jenson Button said of Piastri's qualifying exit: “Oh that’s painful. His teammate was up in P12. It’s so difficult those conditions. He’s never experienced that before. You can do multiple laps on a set of tyres, but (he) just didn’t get the lap together in the end, which is a shame.”

Oscar Piastri, pictured here during a practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri during a practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. (Photo by George Hitchens/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Oscar Piastri cops reprimand after practice session

Piastri was earlier summoned to see the FIA stewards over his actions in the final practice session. Officials found Piastri had “lost concentration” at the end of the session and performed a practice start a “lap too early”, failing to reach the chequered flag before doing so. The Aussie admitted his mistake and was hit with a reprimand.

“The driver admitted that he had lost concentration and was preparing to do a practice start but attempted it a lap too early, having failed to take the chequered flag before doing so,” the stewards summary said. “After he slowed down considerably, the team warned him to complete the lap before attempting a practice start and therefore he did not go through the full practice start procedure.

“The driver candidly admitted his mistake and recognised that this could have resulted in a dangerous situation on the track. In accordance with previous precedents for similar infringements, we imposed a reprimand on him.”

Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will start the Australian Grand Prix second and third on the grid respectively. Russell was just 0.236 seconds behind Verstappen in Saturday's qualifying, while Hamilton was 0.372 behind the Red Bull champion.

Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez will start from last on the grid after twice ending in the gravel due to tyre issues on Saturday. The Mexican driver initially went off in the third practice session, before disaster struck on his first lap during qualifying.

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.