Oscar Piastri admitted he treated Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix as a glorified test session after being caught up in the lap one incident that ended the races of Alex Albon (Williams) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas), the McLaren driver finishing last of the classified runners in 14th place.
It was a messy end to a fraught first visit to Brazil for the Australian, who qualified 10th on the grid after spinning on his first lap in Q3 on Friday and not getting a second run in before rain pelted the Interlagos circuit.
Piastri finished 10th in the Sprint from the same starting position, and felt his place on the fifth row of the grid contributed to his bad luck on Sunday.
Piastri’s car was hit from behind by Magnussen’s Haas, which had slewed across the track after being pinballed by Albon’s Williams, which had made contact with Magnussen’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg. The rear wing on the McLaren was damaged beyond repair, but a red flag enabled his team to make a frantic fix in the garage during the half-hour delay to clear up debris at the first corner, allowing Piastri to take the restart from pit lane.
“It was just the crash behind me that I ended up getting involved (in), there’s not much more to say,” Piastri said after finishing two laps behind race-winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing).
“Unfortunately when you qualify in that sort of position, you leave yourself in the hands of others a lot, and today it paid off.”
Piastri was thankful for the “amazing work” of his mechanics to make his car raceable after such a heavy hit, and found some positives to take from the final leg of a triple-header at three tracks – the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and now Interlagos – that he’d never driven before.
While he’s managed just four points over those three weekends to teammate Lando Norris’ 59, he felt Sunday’s track time would be of benefit in the future.
“It was a lonely race, but still a lot of learning,” he said.
“I can’t thank the guys enough for getting the car back together, and that’s 70 more laps around a track I’ve never been to before so I still learned a lot from that, so thank you to the team.
“It was always going to be a long afternoon (after the accident) … we just treated it as a test session more than anything, just trying to see what we could learn in terms of tyres. I think we did a decent job of that.”
Oscar's Sao Paulo Grand Prix by the numbers
- Sprint (24 laps): Started 10th, finished 10th
- Race (71 laps): Started 10th, finished 14th
- Fastest lap: 1min 14.310secs (8th), lap 66
- Points this event: 0
- Points this season: 87 (9th in world championship)