Piastri with ‘a lot in the bank’ after learning from São Paulo sprint
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 5th November, 2023 - 11:03am
Oscar Piastri feels his first taste of racing at Interlagos means he goes into Sunday’s São Paulo Grand Prix “with a lot in the bank”.
The circuit is one of the few Piastri had no knowledge of coming into his rookie season, with his debut to date hit and miss after showing good pace on occasions, whilst also conceding to mistakes in others.
The first of those materialised in qualifying for the race on Friday evening on the team side when he was sent out too late by McLaren as black clouds loomed and a storm that blew the roof off a grandstand eventually hit.
In sprint qualifying, Piastri was unable to extract the pace from the car, in contrast to team-mate Lando Norris who grabbed pole.
From 10th on the grid, Piastri became bogged down in a DRS train, which culminated in a battle with fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo at one stage before the pace drained out of his tyres.
“The speed in the car is definitely there,” said Piastri. “Lando showed it today, and even for myself, it was looking good until the last two corners where it went very wrong.
“So definitely a few lessons to learn from this weekend, for myself especially, and also for the team as it is pretty tricky around here to get it all together.
“For the first time, I was happy with the pace, just unfortunately the execution has not quite been there.”
Asked by Speedcafe as to the specific nature of the lessons he had learned, he replied: “Just a few too many mistakes, trying a bit too hard.
“Obviously, in Q3, going out at the end, was a mistake in hindsight.
“The team did a very good job of correcting it today, but unfortunately I didn’t really hold up my end of the bargain.
“So definitely some things to learn and just trying to get it all together. I definitely learned a lot from a tyre management point of view, from a racing point of view, and where to position the car.
“So definitely a lot learned, but still some things to try and improve, but a lot in the bank.”
The battle with Ricciardo at the midway point of the sprint was a captivating one, as the latter in his AlphaTauri was trying to pass Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz immediately in front of him, whilst keeping Piastri at bay directly behind him.
Ricciardo twice passed Sainz with DRS at the end of Turn 1, only to swiftly be retaken with DRS into four. Shortly after that, Piastri took his opportunity to overtake his fellow Australian.
Although he managed to hold off his older compatriot for a few laps, on wearing rubber, Ricciardo managed to reclaim ninth.
“The first half of the race there was obviously a lot of battling, and I felt like I was quite quick, but I didn’t have the pace to use it,” said Piastri.
“It was a good battle with Dan. I could see I was a bit quicker in the first few laps, and he was quicker than Carlos.
“The opportunity was there. I thought I might be able to get past him and then get Carlos as well but I used up a lot of my tyres trying to do that.
“Maybe I over-pushed a bit too much at the start, and then paid for it in the last few laps because after making the move on Daniel at one point, I didn’t really have much left after that to go and get Carlos.
“It didn’t make life easy, but I’ve learned that overtaking is definitely doable.”