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“Need to find more”: Piastri, McLaren left behind by Ferrari

Matt Clayton
Monday, 8 April 2024

Oscar Piastri says both he and his team have plenty to ponder after he fell to eighth in Japan, Ferrari’s race pace overwhelming McLaren after it outqualified the Scuderia at Suzuka.

Oscar Piastri conceded both he and McLaren have “some work to do” after finishing eighth in Japan, with Ferrari’s race pace overcoming its qualifying deficit over 53 laps of Suzuka on Sunday.

McLaren, which had Lando Norris (second) and Piastri (third) on the podium the last time F1® visited Suzuka last September, was optimistic of a repeat performance on Sunday after Norris qualified third and Piastri sixth, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (fourth) and Charles Leclerc (eighth) on their back foot in the fight for best of the rest behind Red Bull Racing.


On Sunday, Sainz used a two-stop strategy and Leclerc a one-stop race to finish third and fourth, respectively, while Norris faded to fifth as Piastri found himself embroiled in a fight with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ George Russell for sixth as the laps wound down.

Alonso used all of his vast experience to keep Piastri behind while allowing Russell to catch up, and the Mercedes and McLaren touched at the final chicane when Russell attempted to pass Piastri with four laps to go.

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At the end of the penultimate lap, a mistake by Piastri allowed Russell to pass him using DRS on the start-finish straight, leaving Piastri with plenty to ponder on the weekend of his 23rd birthday, which he celebrated on Saturday.

“It was a busy race,” Piastri said.

“As a team, we struggled a bit more today than we expected as well. Not the afternoon we were looking for.

“Today showed we still have some work to do, we’re clearly not quite at the level of Ferrari yet so we just need to find a little bit more. For myself it’s not been the greatest of weekends so I need to look a little bit internally, but we need to find a little bit of pace in the car as well.”

Piastri, who said he was wise to the wily Alonso’s tactics as Russell loomed large in his own mirrors, had no issues with the Mercedes driver as their battle became increasingly fraught as the chequered flag loomed.

“It was hard racing, a bit of wheel-banging but he got in front. I tried my best,” he said.

“I just a made a bit of a mistake into the last chicane and locked up a bit, and that was it. It’s not really for the positions I want to be fighting for, but I just struggled a bit with the tyres. We didn’t really have the pace of the cars around us, so we need to dig into why.”

Ahead of F1’s return to China for the first time since 2019 for the next round – a track where Piastri has never visited – the Australian slipped to sixth in the drivers’ standings with 32 points, while McLaren stayed third in the constructors’ championship after extending its lead over Mercedes after Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton could only finish in ninth place at Suzuka.

Oscar Piastri at the Japanese Grand Prix

Oscar’s Japanese Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 6th
  • Race: 8th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 34.802secs (7th), lap 35
  • Points this event: 4
  • Points this season: 32 (6th in world championship)