Piastri laments early retirement from United States GP
By Ian Parkes
Monday 23rd October, 2023 - 7:15am
Oscar Piastri was left to lament an early retirement from the United States Grand Prix after first-lap contact with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
Starting from 10th on the grid, McLaren driver Piastri had managed to get a superb launch off the line, leaving him side by side with Ocon through the sharp Turn 1 left-hander.
As both cars made the run down to Turn 2, with Ocon to Piastri’s right, the French driver hit the right-hand sidepod on his rival’s MCL60.
With damage sustained to both cars, Ocon retired at the end of lap six, with Piastri following four laps later at a time when he was running in sixth position.
Piastri felt neither himself nor Ocon was at fault for what was the third retirement of his rookie year for the 22-year-old Australian.
Assessing the hit from Ocon, Piastri added: “There’s fluid all down the right sidepod, and that’s where the contact was, so yeah, that was probably the cause of the end of the race.
“I didn’t really think anything of it (the collision), to be honest. I felt like I definitely had the right to be there.
“I don’t think Esteban did anything untoward. We met and, unfortunately, it’s caused damage for both of us. Just one of those incidents.”
The weekend overall for Piastri at the Circuit of the Americas was a relatively difficult one, particularly in contrast to his superb performances over the last two races in Japan, and especially Qatar where he won the sprint from pole and was second in the grand prix.
Declaring COTA to be “an extremely tricky track, especially to get it all together”, Piastri at least felt he was making progress until his retirement.
“Throughout practice and qualifying, I was improving through each session,” said Piastri.
“But then obviously going into the sprint, it was the first time we’d done consecutive laps in racing conditions, and it’s kind of just starting the learning process all over again.
“Today was a better step forward from yesterday, maybe still not quite to the level I would have liked, but definitely a big improvement from yesterday.
“A shame it’s over early because I think there’s still a lot of learning to go on from this afternoon. I was getting better and better – I just needed to do it a bit quicker.”
After finishing a relatively lowly 10th in the sprint compared to his remarkable triumph two weeks previously in Qatar, Piastri was able to recognise why his performance was slightly off-par, allowing hik to make amends in the grand prix, despite the damage to his car.
“The way the sprint is, and especially the start of the sprint, I was battling a lot of cars very hard, so I don’t know if that took a lot out of the tyres,” assessed Piastri.
“It’s quite a different situation, and I think my sprint was, in some ways, over before it began with the tyres.
“It definitely helped me for today to try and rectify what was wrong. Just a shame that I only got 10 laps to try and work out.”