Piastri: Run to Suzuka podium 'not my strongest Sunday'

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Oscar Piastri admitted that claiming his maiden podium in F1 was a "special" moment, but the McLaren charger says the Japanese Grand Prix wasn't his strongest Sunday.

McLaren enjoyed at Suzuka its first double podium of the season, a result that reflected the team's growing momentum on the back of the multiple upgrades implemented on its MCL60 car.

Lando Norris secured in Japan his fourth runner-spot of the season, but Piastri had yet to savour the spoils of a top-three finish.

The Aussie's efforts in qualifying had yielded a spot on the front row – another impressive first for Piastri – alongside poleman Max Verstappen and just ahead of Norris.

But the Briton was faster off the line when the lights went out on Sunday, while Piastri didn't force the issue against Verstappen as the pair barreled down into Turn 1.

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After qualifying, Norris had suggested tongue-in-cheek that his only chance of victory against Verstappen in Japan would be if Piastri punted his Red Bull rival off at the start, like Ayrton Senna had done with Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 when both F1 legends ended their race in the gravel trap at the first corner.

"Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, looking back on it now, I was in the perfect position to emulate Senna and Prost! Like, literally perfect!” Piastri said.

"But no, I saw I got a good launch, got a bit too excited on the throttle pedal in the second part of the start," he continued.

"At that point, I wasn’t far enough alongside Max. I could see Lando was coming around the outside. I think settling for third was definitely the safest option at that point."

After the McLaren duo had run second and third in the first part of the race, a well-timed pitstop under the Virtual Safety Car allowed Piastri to undercut his teammate.

But Norris eventually caught up and overhauled the Australian, with the latter crossing the checkered flag 17 seconds behind his teammate.

As he celebrated the memorable milestone in his budding F1 career, Piastri was asked if claiming his first podium at such a challenging circuit such as Suzuka added something "special" to the achievement.

"It’s special wherever you get a podium I think. To get the first one, I don’t think it really matters where. It’s always going to be special," said the 22-year-old.

"I think for myself, it probably wasn’t my strongest Sunday. So from that side of things, there are still a few things I want to work on.

"To get the first podium, like Lando said, on pace as well, is a very exciting moment."

As expected, tyre management on Suzuka's abrasive tarmac and amid Sunday's high temperatures came into play in Sunday's race, and Piastri reckoned that he could have done a better job looking after his rubber.

"I just wasn’t quick enough at certain points of the race. These high-deg races are probably the biggest thing I need to try and work on at the moment," he conceded.

"I think it’s still quite fresh for me, obviously in all the junior racing before, there’s no races like this, so the only way you can learn is by doing the races. Definitely a few things.

"Had I done this race again, I’d have done it a bit different. But that’s all part of the learning. Yeah, exciting to know we can finish on the podium even if I feel there’s more to come."

Piastri's podium in Japan capped a very good week for the Aussie during which it was confirmed that he would remain a McLaren driver until the end of 2026, at least.

"It’s been a very fun week," he added. "Enjoy it, and still a lot to learn and try and improve on. But yeah, I’ll enjoy the moment for now."

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