Oscar Piastri on a “difficult” F1 Hungarian GP: “It unravelled from the first pitstop onwards”

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Oscar Piastri had a great start to the Hungarian Grand Prix; after a disappointing start from Lewis Hamilton in pole position, he managed to pass the Brit and teammate Norris in turn 1 to slot in behind Max Verstappen and ahead of his stablemate.

He managed to hold on to his position for the first stint, but a strategy call to pit the British driver first meant that Piastri had to concede his position and settle for the last spot on the podium.

His race quickly unravelled in the final stint after Perez and Hamilton managed to overtake him and he had to settle for fifth position.

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

When asked about his race, the rookie admitted that this is the first race in his Formula 1 career where the degradation was substantial.

“I would say difficult on the whole; the first stint was very good. The start was mega, and it just kinda unravelled from the first pitstop onwards.

“We’ll look at why I struggled so much on the tyres, clearly it was a pretty key point for this race, still plenty to learn, I think that’s one of my first races with really high deg, multiple pitstops, so there’s no easy way to learn those things apart from experiencing it the hard way.

“I was very happy with what I did in the first fifteen laps; it was a shame that we couldn’t hang on.”

The Formula 2 champion was also adamant that the strategy call from the Woking-based team did not affect his race and insisted that he is mainly looking at improving his own performance saying:

“I tried to bring the tyres in quite well. Clearly, I didn’t do a very good job of that; I just lacked a little pace; I think Lando finished thirty seconds ahead of me, so whether he undercut me or not, it didn’t make much difference in the end.

“I think there’s bigger things I need to focus on first, of course, that probably wasn’t ideal, but I need to put myself first, I need to put myself on a position where I can fight to stay with him so we’re looking at what I can do better next time. Obviously, that will make my life easier.”

During the fight for his position with Sergio Perez, Piastri was escorted onto the grass at the exit of turn 2; he also explained that he didn’t defend as much as he could due to the Red Bull’s pace advantage over the MCL60.

“I probably could’ve defended a bit harder into turn one; it was always going to be tricky to stay on the outside of turn two, especially when he was one second a lap faster than me; maybe a few things I could’ve done differently, if I was relatively in the fight maybe I would’ve pushed a bit harder to have that position back, but when you finish twenty seconds behind that guy, there’s not much point in complaining, there’s some things for myself to worry about first, then we can worry about that.”

However, Andrea Stella confirmed that Piastri was carrying floor damage during the race as his pace fell off horribly in stints 2 and 3.

“In the second stint, we saw that Lando had a bit more pace. But in fairness, we have to also mention that Oscar had damage on his car, and this meant that he lost a few tenths from a performance point of view.

“But we also think that because this was rear downforce, this caused extra degradation on the tyres, and that’s part of the reason why he struggled then to keep up with Lando but also with the cars coming behind him.”

Piastri failed to mention the damage post-race when talking to written media and TV outlets, although Stella confirmed they told him over the radio. The Italian believes this is part of Piastri’s personality as he doesn’t look for excuses.

The McLaren team boss added the damage didn’t just happen in the battle with Pérez.

“Oscar is a guy that doesn’t look for excuses, so not surprised that he might not even mention [the damage] but it’s there. The damage happened actually running wide on a kerb, not necessarily and only when he went off-track while fighting with Perez. So there maybe both times where this damage to the car happened.”