Piastri facing the unknown with ‘completely new’ Mexico and Brazil
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 26th October, 2023 - 9:44am
Oscar Piastri heads into the unknown over the next two F1 weekends as the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix pose “a challenge” for the F1 rookie.
Despite a stellar junior career, McLaren driver Piastri has not driven at either the Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City or Interlagos in São Paulo
It leaves the 22-year-old with nothing more than run-outs in the simulator on which to fall back on, although with Mexico, in particular, he can at least rely on a more straightforward weekend.
“It’ll be a brand new track, so that’ll be an experience, and back to a normal weekend, a lot more time to practice things and get some consecutive laps in hopefully,” said Piastri.
“Hopefully, it’s just a bit more structured for myself and I can go into qualifying and the race a bit more up to speed.”
The comment was a reference to the United States Grand Prix weekend which incorporated another sprint event.
Two weeks previously, Piastri had starred in Qatar, winning the sprint from pole position as the high-speed nature of the Lusail International Circuit played to his and the car’s strengths.
Around Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, Piastri was unable to fly out of the blocks and find the right setup with the car during the sole practice session on Friday ahead of qualifying.
There was steady progression throughout the weekend which culminated in an unfortunate retirement after 10 laps of the grand prix due to hydraulic damage sustained from a lap-one collision with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
At a circuit McLaren had initially predicted would not suit the car, the performance of the MCL60 was a surprise, offering Piastri hope for the races in Mexico and Brazil, which stages the final sprint event.
Asked by Speedcafe of his knowledge of the two tracks, he replied: “Nothing really.
“I’ve driven around the simulator, but they’ll be completely new, and Brazil’s obviously going to be a sprint as well so it’s going to be a challenge.
“I don’t know what our car performance will be like as well. I think it’s been in some ways a pleasant surprise how good we’ve been (in Austin).
“I would say I didn’t extract the most out of it myself, but the pace in the car was clearly pretty good, so hopefully we can continue that into the next two.
“In Mexico, because of the altitude and stuff like that, it throws in another challenge. Obviously, there’s a lot less downforce there, so I don’t know if that will help us that much, and I don’t really know if the track is bumpy or smooth.
“But as I said, it (the car in Austin) was a pleasant surprise, on quite a bumpy track and with a decent amount of low-speed corners, that we were still competitive. Hopefully, we can have some good results.”