Piastri’s honesty about Sunday weaknesses after first F1 podium shows he’ll reach the very top

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Oscar Piastri stood on an F1 podium for the first time at the Japanese Grand Prix nine days ago.

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

The 22-year-old Australian from Melbourne produced a stunning qualifying performance to outqualify Lando Norris on his first visit to Suzuka.

However, race day was more difficult. With Lando Norris jumping him for P2 at the start as Verstappen eased across on the Aussie to cover him off, the Brit pulled away in the first stint.

Pitting under VSC helped Piastri jump Norris but had to cede the position in the second stint on lap 27 as the British driver had more pace.

Norris ultimately pulled away comfortably and finished just over 17s ahead of his stablemate.

Although clearly happy and proud to score his maiden podium with P3, Piastri was very analytical about his performance.

“I just wasn’t quick enough at certain points of the race, I think. These high-deg races are probably the biggest thing I need to try and work on at the moment. I think it’s still quite fresh for me, obviously.

“In all the junior racing before this there are no races like this. So, the only way you can learn from it is by just doing the races.”

Asked to expand on his difficulties in the press conference, Piastri talked about looking for gains in preserving the tyres whilst also going faster.

After trying to push harder as the first stint went on, his lap times failed to decrease significantly. He started the race in the high 1:38s and ended up doing a 1:39.7 the lap before his first stop.

“Yeah, just I think the tyre management and just pace at certain points of the race was not as strong as I would have liked.

“The first stint it felt like everyone was driving extremely slowly and then when I tried to push a bit more the tyres didn’t really let me go much faster. So a few things to work on there and yeah, just pace overall in the races.

“And like I said, in these kinds of races there’s no easy way to learn apart from just going through the races and having an experience where it’s good or bad.”

After getting ahead of Norris in Hungary at the start, and outqualifying him at Monza and Suzuka, the Australian has failed to finish ahead of his stablemate in any of those races.

Norris getting an undercut at the Hungaroring and Monza, combined with team orders at Suzuka, hasn’t helped. Still, Piastri knows improvements need to be made.

“So yeah, I think pace, I think the one lap pace especially in last few weekends has been a good improvement from the start of the year but definitely, in these kinds of races, the race pace is still an area to improve.”

On a day of celebration and history for the mightily impressive Melbourne-born driver, his honesty and openness about needing to make improvements just shows the elite mentality he has. McLaren clearly believe in him as they chased him last year to steal him away from Alpine. The recent contracr extension proves it even more.

Piastri is a Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion, so his speed and natural talent has never been in question. However, the analytical approach and self-apprisial Piastri brings to the table shows how much he wants to be an elite driver who fights for wins and championships in Formula 1.

In a cutthroat sport such as F1, admitting your relative weaknesses is incredibly powerful. If he can make the gains like you would expect him to in terms of tyre management and race pace as he builds experience, Piastri’s in for a long and successful career.