Piastri: “To lead my first laps was a day I won’t forget”

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Heavy rain ahead of the Sprint session meant that Oscar Piastri would be right behind Max Verstappen for a rolling start. As the track improved, it became apparent that most teams would rather choose the transition to the intermediate tyres instead of the wets when the Safety Car came in.

McLaren opted to immediately box the Australian, while Red Bull kept their lead driver on track for another lap, handing Piastri the lead for the first time in his rookie year after Verstappen boxed.

Photo Credit: McLaren F1

On lap 3, Fernando Alonso spun and beached his car in the gravel at Pouhon, which prompted a safety car; Piastri had a lead of 1.7 seconds. But Verstappen managed to overtake him quickly as Piastri only managed to hold onto the lead until lap six.

He reckoned that the Mclaren was “no match for Max” on the safety car restart, saying: “Very, very happy; we tried our best, we boxed when the safety car came in, led a few laps, tried my best, but we were no match for Max.”

With less time to defend against the double champion, Piastri believed the safety car caused by Alonso may have been to his advantage. But Verstappen ultimately had the advantage in Eau Rouge.

“It was, gonna be in my favour, it meant less laps to try to hold him behind, but I looked out of Turn 1, I felt like I got a decent restart; I looked at the top of Eau Rouge, and he was basically on top of me already, I couldn’t keep him behind on the straights.”

After a series of upgrades, McLaren has shown incredible pace at different types of circuits, proving that they are much more competitive and their performance doesn’t fluctuate between circuits. He thanked the team, adding:

“It’s nice to be up there in P2; apart from Max, our pace was really strong. Full credit to the team again; the past three weeks have been pretty special compared from where we have been; I can’t thank them enough for the car.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, clearly, to get right to the top, but it’s a lot nicer to be up there; to lead my first laps was a day I won’t forget.”