Piastri Q&A: ‘I’m certainly enjoying how things have gone recently’
Wednesday 11th October, 2023 - 3:00pm
Oscar Piastri, F1’s newest winner offers his unique insight through an exclusive Q&A feature for Speedcafe.
Piastri won the 2021 FIA Formula 2 championship, his third title success in as many years, before graduating to F1 with McLaren for 2023.
He’s quickly established himself as one of the sport’s brightest stars, claiming podiums and an F1 Sprint win in his rookie season.
With the Suzuka podium and performance over the Qatar weekend, are you driving at the highest level you ever have?
“I’m certainly enjoying how things have gone recently. Even going back to Singapore, it was great to make up 10 places in the race there and I’ve managed to carry that momentum onto Japan and Qatar with back-to-back GP podiums and a Sprint victory.
“I’m still learning all the time and building my knowledge up slowly and surely at venues that I’ve never raced at before so, I’d say that it is still work in progress but I’m happy with how things are going.
“I’ve only done 17 races so there is a long way to go, and I just need to keep cracking on with the learning process.”
How useful is a weekend like Qatar where you’ve got high degradation but at the same time rules in place in terms of tyre life, stint length? You’ve noted tyre management as an area you’re focusing on, do you feel your tyre management took a step forward in Qatar?
“Every race weekend is useful. I’ve picked up things to learn from every grand prix so far but Qatar was one which was a big learning curve.
“To have to deal with all those variables in terms of the heat in the cockpit, tyre degradation on a track with so many mid and high-speed corners and stint lengths was all knowledge in the bank.
“In the junior categories, you don’t deal with some of those so, they are just things that are always going to take some time to adapt to.
“I can feel myself making progress across the board, but I know I have lots to improve on further.”
How closely matched is the McLaren to your natural driving style? Is it the best car you’ve driven in your career in terms of your comfort behind the wheel or is it a little uncomfortable but fast!?
“I think the story of the season for us is pretty well known and the upgrades to the car that we both got for the first time in Silverstone have given us a car that has allowed us to fight at the front on several occasions and that has been great.
“Every car has its own characteristics and I think we know as a team where we need to improve with this one. Lando and I have given pretty similar feedback and we are all working to strengthen the package.
“Throughout the junior formulae, I’ve driven a new car pretty much every year so, getting used to specific characteristics, is nothing new. I just try to adapt and extract the most from it.”
With so many races now crammed into the next six weeks or so, how do you prepare? Do you get time in the simulator, are you back and forth to the UK between events? How challenging is the run to Abu Dhabi for you, and how are you managing that?
“I’ve got a few days in the simulator back at the factory before we head off for the Austin/Mexico/Brazil triple-header. The last real spell we have for any training days or days at the factory after that is when we get back from Brazil but apart from that, it is going to be all about the races from hereon in.
“Because we have so many races and all the travel, it is important to have a bit of a breather in between events and to rest and recover in the little time there is.
“It is going to be a challenging run to Abu Dhabi but we’ve had these back-to back spells throughout the season so, it is nothing new and I think we are all used to it and how to deal with the demands.”
Have things changed this year in terms of having a ‘normal’ life? Do you get recognised in the street, can you do the shopping or go out to dinner without being interrupted?
“I’ve obviously started to be recognised a little bit more when I’m out and about, but everyone has been great with me. I’ve had a lot of people give me encouragement and nice words and that has been really nice.
“I would not say my life has changed massively though. I still go about my business pretty quietly and keep things very normal and I like it that way.
“In general, I’m a pretty laid-back and chilled person so I just like to go under the radar and relax when I’m away from the F1 world.”