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“Destroyed” car pulls plug on Piastri’s progress

Matt Clayton
Monday, 22 April 2024

Oscar Piastri said damage from the safety car restart that led to compatriot Daniel Ricciardo’s retirement in Shanghai explained his eight-place result and deficit to McLaren teammate Lando Norris, who surprised with a podium finish.

Oscar Piastri’s progress in his first Chinese Grand Prix was curtailed by “significant” damage to his McLaren when it was tapped by Daniel Ricciardo’s RB at a safety car restart midway through Sunday’s 56-lap race, with Ricciardo clouted by Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin a split-second later in a clash that left Ricciardo enraged and Stroll penalised.

Piastri was in eighth place for the lap 26 restart when the field checked up to avoid Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) out-braking himself at the Turn 14 hairpin, with Ricciardo tapping Piastri’s car ahead of him before being launched into the air by Stroll’s car behind.


Piastri, his car “pretty destroyed” after the impact, was able to finish in eighth place to maintain his 100 per cent points-scoring record to start his second season, and felt the damage played a significant part in his 56.198sec deficit to race-winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), and his 42-second gap to teammate Lando Norris, who finished in second place.

Asked how bad the damage was to his car after the race, Piastri replied: “significant”.

“I don’t know how much time it was worth, but looking at the back of the car after the race, it was pretty destroyed,” he added.

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“I think it explains quite a lot of the deficit. The first part of the race it was looking okay and lacking a little bit of pace, but not too bad. After the restart, it was – very much literal – damage limitation.”

On his first visit to Shanghai, Piastri had his work cut out after China’s return to the calendar following a five-year absence coincided with the first Sprint weekend of the year, leaving him with just an hour of running to become accustomed to the track.

Piastri finished eighth in a wet qualifying session for the Sprint race before scoring two points for seventh in Saturday morning’s 19-lap short-form race, then qualified fifth for the Grand Prix proper in a thrilling conclusion to Q3 that saw Piastri, then Norris, Alonso and eventually Sergio Perez slotting into second place behind pole-sitter Verstappen after the chequered flag fell.

Norris’ surprise second place – the British driver bet his race engineer Will Joseph that he’d finish 35 seconds behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz before eventually finishing 10 and 20 seconds ahead respectively – had Piastri optimistic that better results could be just around the corner next time out in Miami, where the team plans to debut its first major upgrade package to the MCL38 machine for the season.

“Hopefully it makes the car faster, but it will be interesting to see what we can do,” Piastri, who qualified and finished just 19th on his maiden visit to Florida a year ago, said.

“For Lando to finish second today is a great result for the team and very unexpected, so we need to understand why we seem to be good today.

“Hopefully it makes the car even quicker and we can start challenging for podiums regularly.”

Oscar’s Chinese Grand Prix by the numbers

Sprint (19 laps): Started 8th, finished 7th
Race (56 laps): Started 5th, finished 8th
Fastest lap: 1min 39.739secs (9th), lap 18
Points this event: 6
Points this season: 38 (6th in world championship)