Australian F1 rookie Oscar Piastri came agonisingly close to his first podium at the British GP, after putting his McLaren third on the grid in an impressive qualifying performance. Piastri got off to a great start, briefly challenging championship leader Max Verstappen after teammate Lando Norris seized the lead off the grid, but settled into the top five for the rest of the race.
It was a performance that showcased why Piastri had been so highly rated by McLaren after winning both the F3 and F2 championships in consecutive seasons prior to spending a year as reserve driver for Alpine, but it could have been so much more for the Melbourne-born 22-year-old at Silverstone. Piastri finished fourth behind Verstappen, Norris, and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
Piastri was unfortunately caught out when a virual safety car called for the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, who had suffered an engine failure, was upgraded to a full safety car. IN the resultant pit lane scramble, Hamilton was able to leapfrog the Australian into third. It was a bitterly disappointing turn of events for Piastri, who hadn't put a foot wrong across the whole race weekend.
While he admitted it was 'gutting' to miss out on his first podium, Piastri was nevertheless thrilled to have finished in the top five. The upgrade package first offered to Norris at the prior Austrian GP was applied to Piastri's car at Silverstone, vaulting the team back into top 10 contention after a disappointing start to the season.
“It’s a bittersweet result,” Piastri said after the race.“That’s the best way to describe how I feel.
"The most pleasing aspect was that we achieved these results on merit. I think it’s one thing to get these results by lucky incidents, but we were genuinely the second quickest team today, which was a very happy surprise.
“On my side, we were unlucky with the safety car timing with Lewis getting a free stop. But it’s nice in some ways to be disappointed with a fourth place, considering where we were at the start of the year.”
Lando Norris offers high praise for McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri
Norris, who picked up his seventh career podium, was equally enthusiastic about McLaren's progress but also said Piastri had been somewhat hard done by to miss out on his first podium. However hopes are now high for the rest of the season, with McLaren finally showing the pace to compete not only with constructors championship rivals Alpine, but F1 heavy hitters in Mercedes and Ferrari.
“He should be sitting here,” said Norris. “If things went to plan and there wasn’t a safety car. So it’s a bit of a shame. He deserved his first podium in Formula One.
“I think it would have been amazing for us as Team McLaren and celebrating our 60th anniversary ... and he deserved it. He’s been on top form all weekend, he’s been pushing me an insane amount.
“All year he’s been good. It’s not like he’s just turned up here and been strong. He’s been good since day one in the car and makes my life tough sometimes.
"I don’t always like it but it’s a good thing and makes me a better driver too. He’ll have his chances. He’s driving very well and he’s doing a very good job.”
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