Piastri praises “impressive” Leclerc for pulling off a one-stop at the F1 Japanese GP

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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As the race unfolded at Suzuka, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri found himself grappling with tyre wear during the Japanese Grand Prix. He was also in a fight with Fernando Alonso and George Russell, ultimately finishing in P8, securing four points for the team on a tricky day.

In the closing laps of the race, Mercedes’ George Russell tried to make a move in the final chicane, sending it down the inside on Piastri.

With tyre-to-tyre contact in the middle of the chicane, Piastri was forced off the track by Russell, sparking a post-race investigation by the stewards. However, both drivers were ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, with the contact deemed a racing incident.

Soon after that, Piastri made a mistake when entering the final lap, enabling Russell to overtake for P7.

Alonso kept Piastri in DRS range in order to prevent Russell from overtaking, highlighting the strategic depth and wisdom he has learnt over the years. 

Commenting on Alonso’s strategic manoeuvres to defend his position, Piastri acknowledged his use of energy to keep faster cars at bay and to hold the Australian in his DRS. 

“I could tell that Fernando was trying to keep me there by the way he was using his energy.

“I think with how difficult it is to follow in these cars, it’s quite a good strategy to stop a quicker car coming through.”

When asked if the incident with Russell is worth investigating, Piastri noted that “it’s probably a bit of a racing incident.

“A few tough moments with George, but in the end, I made a mistake and he got past. So, yeah, disappointing to let that one slip right at the end, but yeah, just struggled a bit in general today.”

With Mercedes taking to the restart on hard tyres in an attempt to only make one live stop during the race and Leclerc doing a medium-hard strategy, Piastri admitted that “some strategies were a bit of a surprise.”

The Australian credited the Ferrari driver pulling it off, believing it was impossible for McLaren to do that.

“For Mercedes, I assume their plan was to try the hard, hard one-stop effectively, and then convert it back to a medium. Yeah, impressive from Leclerc to pull off a one-stop.

“Definitely some things for us to try and learn. I don’t think we could have done a one-stop… I think just struggled a little bit with pace today.”

Amidst the chaos, Piastri was struggling with pace at times, admitting that it’s hard to predict what problems will impact other teams and drivers throughout the race, alongside McLaren’s team strategy.

This weekend’s race was particularly difficult to predict due to the damp weather in FP2. It’s the session where teams normally do their long runs as it’s the closest free practice session to the actual race start time on a Sunday.

“I think it was just kind of unclear what everyone’s pace was like before the race because of the lack of long runs.

“Obviously a bit disappointing to not be a bit closer to Ferrari and Red Bull. But yeah, see what we can do for next time out.”