Piastri relieved to end rookie F1 season with ‘clean race’

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Oscar Piastri was relieved to conclude in Abu Dhabi his maiden campaign in Formula 1 “on a decent note” and especially with a “clean race” after the McLaren driver’s recent succession of on-track incidents.

Piastri’s strong performance in qualifying saw him line up third on Sunday evening’s grid at Yas Marina behind poleman Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

However, he was unable to hold his own among the top-three beyond the opening three laps of the race, eventually settling for sixth at the checkered flag, seven seconds behind his McLaren teammate Lando Norris.

“It was nice to have a clean race,” commented the 22-year-old after the event, alluding to his unfortunate series of run-ins and contacts with rivals that botched his races in Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Las Vegas.

“It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve had a race without contact or something crazy going on,” he added.

“The race was maybe not as strong as we would have liked as a team. I think my first and second stints weren’t my best of the year, but I think the final stint looked quite strong, so it was nice to end on a decent note.

“We had hoped for a bit more pace but we know our car is still weak in a few areas, and this track definitely exposed that in places.”

In his rookie year, Piastri certainly exceeded expectations, the young Aussie showcasing his talent and adaptability by securing two podiums and a remarkable sprint race win in Qatar.

His consistent performances coupled with maturity beyond his years have solidified his position as a future star in the sport. It’s been a year of learning for the McLaren charger who will be seeking to further expand his knowledge in 2024.

“The races have definitely been the area of focus for the whole year,” said Piastri. “The last stint, things were starting to click a lot more and the pace generally was much better.

“I was pretty happy with the end of the race but some things to still work on. These tyres are not easy, this car is not easy in certain conditions. It’s always a bit of a new experience in every grand prix.

“Hopefully next year, now I’ve been to all the circuits in this car, I know a bit more of what to expect. I feel like I’ve left every race knowing a lot more than I did at the start.

“Hopefully that can be a bit stronger next year.”

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