Piastri rues mistake during ‘tough moment’ with Russell

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Oscar Piastri lamented a mistake on the penultimate lap of the Japanese GP that allowed Mercedes rival George Russell to slip by and snatch P7 from the McLaren charger at the checkered flag.

The 53-lap race brought Piastri and Russell together in the second half of the event, but a proper battle between the two drivers ensued in the closing stages of the race.

Things heated up on lap 49, when the Briton launched a daring move on the McLaren at Suzuka’s final chicane.

The pair went wheel-to-wheel into the right-left complex, which forced Piastri to take to the run-off area. The move caught the attention of the stewards but was eventually deemed a racing incident.

However, fate wasn't on Piastri's side. On the penultimate lap, the McLaren charger misjudged the same chicane, going too deep into the left-hander.

This compromised his exit speed, leaving him vulnerable to Russell who was now within DRS range.

With a clear advantage on the straight, the latter easily overtook Piastri on the final lap, snatching seventh place from the young Australian.

“A few tough moments with George, but in the end I made a mistake and he got past,” Piastri lamented, quoted by Speedcafe.

“Disappointing to let that one slip right at the end, but yeah, struggled a bit in turbulent air.”

While defending from Russell, Piastri was given a helping hand from Fernando Alonso up ahead. The Aston Martin driver cleverly exploited his battery energy to protect his position in P6 while also keeping Piastri in his DRS to help the Aussie keep the Mercedes at bay.

“I could tell Fernando was trying to keep me there by the way he was using his energy,” Piastri explained.

“With how difficult it is to follow in these cars, it is a good strategy to try and stop a quicker car coming through.”

Like his McLaren teammate Lando Norris who finished fifth, Piastri relied on a medium-hard-hard tyre strategy, a theoretically strong option and one that wasn’t available to either Red Bull or Ferrari who only had a single set of hard rubber at their disposal for the race.

“Some strategies were a bit of a surprise,” commented Piastri.

“Obviously, for Mercedes, I assumed their plan was to try the hard one-stop effectively and I think converted back to a medium. Impressive from Leclerc to pull off a one-stop.

“I don’t think we could have done a one-stop. Definitely some interesting things to learn and I think we just struggled a bit on pace today.”

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