[Piastri: Fighting for F1 podiums a “distant dream” at the start of 2023
Piastri looked set for a low-key debut season with McLaren as his team missed its development targets for its 2023 car and started off the season on the back foot.
The MCL60’s deficiencies only allowed the Australian to score five points in the first nine races, while experienced team-mate Lando Norris similarly failed to wring a string of results out of the relatively inefficient and hard-to-drive machine.
But McLaren’s summertime B-spec, which was rolled out across the final races before the break, turned the tide for the team and also allowed Norris and Piastri to grab headlines.
Norris clinched two second-place finishes in Britain and Hungary that propelled the team to fifth in the standings, while Piastri too took his first-ever top-three finish in Formula 1, in the Belgian Grand Prix’s Saturday sprint.
Looking back on his first half-season in the series, Piastri admitted that his Spa result “was a pretty distant dream” at the start of the year.
“I think before the season maybe we thought that that could be possible in the right circumstances, with maybe a few cars not finishing,” Piastri said.
“Of course, once we got the season underway, it was a pretty distant dream that we’d be able to compete for the top three. And to now be here consistently for the last three weekends is pretty remarkable.
“It’s been amazing for me of course. It’s always a nice motivation when you know you can do a good job, the car is there to finish in the top three.”
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Erik Junius
But the down-to-Earth rookie isn’t getting carried by his first F1 success and says his breakthrough Spa weekend doesn’t change the fact he has a long way to go to extract the most performance out of both the car and himself.
“I don’t think it changes too much of what I’m trying to do myself,” he explained. “I’m always trying to get the most out of myself.
“I still have plenty to learn and just getting back up to speed with some things still, so from that aspect, it doesn’t change too much.
“But when you can walk away with a trophy or a sprint plaque thing it’s cool. So yeah, hopefully, we can get some more and keep pushing forward.”
Piastri said he was pleased with how his debut season has been progressing, although he admitted weeding out mistakes was a priority to address.
“I’m very happy where I am, I think my season’s been quite good for the most part,” the 22-year-old replied when asked to rate his first six months in F1.
“I think there’s definitely been some mistakes or moments I wish I could have had again, but with hindsight, it’s very easy to say those kinds of things.
“I’m happy with where I’m at driving-wise, there’s still a lot to improve, a lot to learn.
“I’ve got a very strong team-mate to learn from who just by being a benchmark is a big help for me getting back up to speed, so yeah, I’m happy where I am.”