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“It unravelled”: Piastri’s pain after podium goes begging

Matt Clayton
Monday, 6 May 2024

An unfortunately-timed safety car and contact with Carlos Sainz saw Oscar Piastri’s pace count for nothing in Miami, the Australian finishing 13th on a day McLaren teammate Lando Norris scored his first win.

Oscar Piastri admitted to having “mixed emotions” after a potential podium finish at the Miami Grand Prix went begging, the McLaren driver left to rue his poor fortune after finishing 13th in his second race in Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Sixth in Saturday’s Sprint and having qualified in the same place for Sunday’s 57-lap race, Piastri’s chances of a second Grand Prix podium looked strong soon after the lights went out when he took advantage of Sergio Perez overshooting the first corner in his Red Bull, the Mexican causing Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) to take avoiding action and opening a gap Piastri stormed through into third place.


Piastri then passed Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc into Turn 17 at the end of the back straight on lap four to trail only race-leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull), and he inherited the lead when Verstappen pitted on lap 23, keeping it for four laps until his own stop on lap 27.

Piastri was then caught out by the lap 29 safety car caused by a crash between Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Logan Sargeant (Williams), which meant Norris – who had stayed out longer than his rivals in the top six – was able to inherit and retain the lead after his pit stop to take his first F1 win on his 110th attempt, and McLaren’s first since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

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Piastri race went from bad to worse when he was hit by Sainz as they disputed fourth place on lap 39, the Ferrari breaking the McLaren’s front wing and seeing Piastri have to make a pit stop for repairs, which dropped him to last place. The contact came after a five-lap fight where Sainz complained that he’d been pushed off track by Piastri at Turn 11 on lap 34.

Over three hours after the race, Sainz was hit with a five-second time penalty for causing the collision with Piastri, dropping the Ferrari driver from fourth to fifth in the results.

“Obviously a really good day for the team, to have both cars up there, a really encouraging day in terms of the pace,” Piastri said.

“To get a win on pace – a little bit of good fortune involved – [but] Lando had the pace after, which I think is incredibly encouraging. Overall, mixed emotions, but very happy for the team.”

Piastri’s eventful Sunday saw him set the fastest lap of the race (1min 30.634secs on lap 43) as he recovered to 13th from 19th, but his pace didn’t translate to points with the one point for fastest lap only allocated to drivers who finish inside the top 10.

“I think we did a lot of things right in the first half of the race. A bit unfortunate with the safety car timing, obviously, and then it unravelled from there,” Piastri said.

“I need to have a look at the incident [with Sainz], I’ve not really seen [it], but it’s probably just one of those racing deals.”

Norris’ victory came on a weekend where McLaren introduced a significant update to his MCL38 car, with Piastri running about half of the new parts as the team wasn’t able to bring the full upgrade package for both cars in time, estimating Piastri’s car would be 0.2secs per lap slower as a result.

Piastri is scheduled to have the full upgrade – which included a new front wing, new suspension geometry, revised brake ducts, new bodywork and an updated rear suspension among 10 significant changes – for the next race in Imola in two weeks’ time.

Oscar Piastri at the Miami Grand Prix

Oscar’s Miami Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Sprint (19 laps): Started 6th, finished 6th
  • Race (57 laps): Started 6th, finished 13th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 30.634secs (1st), lap 43
  • Points this event: 3
  • Points this season: 41 (6th in world championship)