Piastri hails ‘pretty special’ F1 podium
By Mat Coch
Sunday 24th September, 2023 - 6:01pm
Oscar Piastri branded his first Formula 1 podium “pretty special” after finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.
The Australian had started on the front row but found himself crowded out by a defensive Max Verstappen off the start, opening the door for team-mate Lando Norris to take second.
Running third in the opening stanza, he moved ahead of his stablemate through the first round of stops.
He then lacked the pace of Norris in the middle part of the race, McLaren reversing the order on track to release the Brit.
With George Russell attempting a one-stop, Piastri fell behind the Mercedes following his second visit to the lane, passing him to secure his maiden podium.
“It feels pretty special,” Piastri said of the result.
“I’ll remember it for a very, very long time. I can’t thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity.
“There’s not many people in the world that get this opportunity in their whole life, and I managed to have it in my first season.
“Wasn’t my best race ever, but it was enough to pick up a trophy at the end.”
Piastri becomes the sixth Australian to stand on the podium in a world championship grand prix, along with Jack Brabham, Tim Schnecken, Alan Jones, Mark Webber, and Daniel Ricciardo.
To get there, he had to work for it.
While he didn’t have the outright pace of Norris, he had a faster car than Russell’s Mercedes, whose one-stop strategy was ultimately a gamble against Carlos Sainz rather than the McLarens.
Russell stopped on Lap 24 and was attempting to go to the end without pitting again while Piastri’s second stop came on Lap 35 where he had a set of hard tyres fitted for the run home.
The telling move came into Turn 1 on Lap 42, clearing the way for Piastri to claim his first F1 podium.
“George, I knew I had to try and get past otherwise I was going to get stuck for a while,” Piastri recounted.
“That one was, was a bit close.
“Our pace after that was very strong and I think in the second half of the race I got more into a groove more into a rhythm and the pace was a bit better.
“I’m very, very happy and excited to try and get some more.”