Piastri happy with ‘really good’ Imola pace but rues grid drop


Oscar Piastri deemed himself happy with his “really good” pace in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna GP, but the McLaren driver reckoned that his grid drop from qualifying had cost him dearly at the end of the day.

Piastri concluded Saturday’s qualifying with a strong second place behind poleman Max Verstappen, but an impeding incident in Q1 involving Haas’ Kevin Magnussen earned him a three-place grid drop, meaning the Aussie launched his race from P5.

This proved challenging for the 23-year-old who spent his entire first stint behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz while Verstappen, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc led proceedings up ahead.

However, Piastri’s lap 23 pitstop eventually equated to an undercut on Sainz that placed him fourth in the running order.

But that was as good as it got for the #81 McLaren as tyre degradation began to set in which hindered Piastri's efforts to reel in Leclerc for a chance to share the podium once again with Norris.

“Starting further back, I think that was the biggest thing today,” commented Piastri after his race.

“I think the pace was honestly really good. I think in the first stint we were strong, just stuck behind Carlos.

“Then the second stint, pushed very hard at the start to undercut him and then also to try and get Leclerc.

“Just with the tyres, they just don't like being pushed, so I just struggled a bit after that – looked like Charles had a very similar thing.”

Assessing his Imola weekend, Piastri acknowledged McLaren’s strong performance as a whole a well as his own ascending confidence and momentum.

The Australian driver is clearly enjoying his run of form amid his team’s consistent improvements and ability to fight for race wins.

“There's a lot of positive things and encouragement to take for this week,” Piastri said.

“As a team, clearly, we're there. And I think personally, the last two weekends, I feel like I've been really strong as well. Miami felt like a really strong weekend, here has felt really strong.

That was the most we could have got out of the race,” he added.

“I'm very happy, feel like I've built a bit of good momentum in the last two weekends, which is something I've been trying to aim for a bit more.

“And I think as a team, we're proving on different tracks, different conditions – which are generally conditions we've struggled in in the past – that we're there in the fight for wins.”

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