Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
McLaren’s Oscar Piastri admitted his Lap 16 clash with Lewis Hamilton during the Las Vegas Grand Prix “was an awkward one” but it didn’t manage to hurt his race.
Piastri was a hard charger in the opening exchanges of the inaugural race at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, climbing ten places from 18th to eighth in the first 10 laps.
The Australian rookie then had a coming together with Hamilton when both tried to share the same piece of asphalt at Turn 14, with both drivers incurring a puncture.
This prompted Piastri to pit instantly for a second set of Hard Tyres, but luckily he confirmed that the incident bore little impact on his overall race result.
“It was kind of just an awkward one,” Piastri said. “Neither of us had really committed to the corner that much, and then we both committed at the last minute and, you know, then I was trying to back out of it, we just ended up meeting in the middle, so, I had a puncture from that.
“I don’t think it really hurt our race that much in all honesty.
“It would have been interesting to see if a one-stop could have worked, from that point. We would have been a sitting duck like Gasly, pretty much.
“Yeah, a lot of things for a lot of people went wrong in that race and I think I was in the same boat.”
Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60 makes a pit stop. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
Committing to a long second stint on the Hard tyre, Piastri found himself as high as fourth place after the second Safety Car period during the midpoint of the race.
Sadly for the Australian rookie, rules permit two compounds to be used during a GP and he had to relinquish fourth place to switch to the Medium compound on Lap 43.
Piastri recovered to 10th with a late pass on Pierre Gasly before also setting the fastest lap of the race, having emerged from his second stop in 12th place.
Given McLaren’s struggles for pace earlier in the weekend, exemplified by Piastri’s 18th place on the grid, the Australian was left in two minds after the chequered flag.
“I think the, the timing of the Safety Car was pretty much perfect for the guys that stayed on mediums at the start,” he added. “I was really wishing the rule of using two compounds didn’t exist because I would have just gone to the end on the hard and I think we had the pace to hang on to P4. So that was a shame.
“The pace of the car was a really good surprise. I think yesterday obviously wasn’t particularly representative of us, of our pace, but today was probably better than we expected. So [we] need to understand what the difference was.
“A lot of teams seem to be incredibly different from yesterday. Williams we thought would be quite quick today and, you know, weren’t so yeah, a few things to look at, but it almost feels like we deserved a bit more than P10.”
McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella also expressed disappointment with the 10th place result for Piastri, ruing the intervention of the Safety Car.
Stella was convinced pitting for the Medium tyre during the Lap 27 Safety Car period was “too early” and that “it wouldn’t have been a good idea because at the end of the race we would have been in big trouble.
“It’s just a massive shame because Oscar was absolutely brilliant,” Stella continued. “Somehow today was a bit of a surprise as to how quick we were.
“So it’s a shame that because we had started the race on the Hard tyres, then we needed to pit before the due time because of the contact with Hamilton.
“Today with how the Safety Car placed where it was placed, it was always going to be a bit of an unfavourable race for somebody that started on the Hard because you would have needed to add a stop at the end.”
Keyword: Piastri views Hamilton clash in Vegas as ‘an awkward one’