Stella praises Piastri for “staying calm” during lengthy Hamilton pursuit in F1 Saudi Arabian GP

Photo credit: McLaren
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Having out-qualified his teammate to line up fifth on the grid for Saturday’s race, Oscar Piastri swiftly advanced up to fourth after overtaking Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso on the second lap. 

The most memorable part of Piastri’s Jeddah outing, however, was his lengthy battle with Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s defensive drive and McLaren’s top-speed disadvantage proved to be a bit of a headache for Piastri, who suffered a lock-up and even a brief off during the chase.

He was ultimately denied the satisfaction of making the pass as Hamilton yielded by diving into the pits, but was able to carry his P4 all the way to the finish line. 

Although Piastri found the nearly half-race-long pursuit frustrating, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella was pleased with his performance, praising the Australian for keeping a cool head.

“Oscar’s race is effectively cashing in the strong result he already had yesterday, where he made strong progress through qualifying, to qualify in P5, and today he managed to gain one more position, finishing P4, in what I think was a very clean and solid race,” Stella told the media afterwards.

“Staying out of trouble, being quick, but also being patient when you have to be patient and you don’t have to get nervous, like ‘I’ve not been able to pass Hamilton, I’m going to attack even more’ 

“Actually at one stage he had a little lock-up into corner one, a couple of times went long, he stayed calm, he waited for the race to come to him.

“I think we’re just very pleased, but not surprised—not surprised because we spent a lot of time with Oscar, we see all the details, we see all the data, and we know that the potential is very high.

“And we know that the consistency from a racing point of view and mental point of view is strong, and I think I’ve always said that this aspect of his—the way he just stays calm and makes sure that he uses the full extent of his talent, I think is his strongest characteristic.”

While Stella expects Piastri to be incredibly in-demand as the hometown hero at round three in Melbourne, he assured that the team is carefully managing the drivers’ schedules to strike a balance between off-track obligations and on-track performance.

“In general this year we are paying more attention [to] the driver schedule, over a race weekend, because we want to make sure the drivers have the time to focus on performance, focus on having their downtime time, relax and so on, so we are using effectively the same approach.

“But if anything even more carefully for Melbourne—there’s many requests, but some we will accept, some we will have to protect delivering the performance, and we will not accept.”