Christian Horner speaks out on Oscar Piastri amid interest in signing him

McLaren racer Oscar Piastri briefly led the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Oscar Piastri after the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race, following the rookie’s stellar P2.

Piastri briefly led the sprint race after pitting for Intermediates at the right time, something which saw him move ahead of Max Verstappen.

The Australian demonstrated excellent pace, but he was quickly caught by the reigning World Champion.

Verstappen breezed past Piastri relatively easily, after noticing that the McLaren driver was using his tyres “quite hard”.

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The Dutchman went on to win the sprint race ahead of Piastri, who claimed a brilliant P2.

Horner was quick to praise the rookie after the race, who sadly retired on the first lap of the actual race.

“Very strong drive again by Oscar Piastri again,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the sprint.

“Max commented he saw Oscar used the tyres quite hard and that maybe made it easier for him to convert the win.”

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Whilst Verstappen won the sprint, Sergio Perez retired from it, following a collision with Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton was slapped with a five-place grid penalty for hitting the side of Perez, which punctured a hole in the Mexican’s sidepod.

Horner was bitterly disappointed with Perez’s retirement given that he overtook both Ferrari drivers and Hamilton after his pit-stop, putting him in contention for a great result.

The Red Bull boss admitted though, that the 33-year-old’s damage was causing him to lose “so much downforce”, leaving the team no choice but to retire his car.

“Checo had an amazing stop and great release that got him ahead of the Ferraris and Lewis so that elevated him to fourth,” Horner said.

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“Unfortunately the contact, left front to sidepod has put a big hole in [Perez’s] sidepod and then you lose so much downforce,” Horner explained.

“You could see he lost so much performance and we had no choice but to retire the car. That was very unfortunate.”

Perez’s retirement meant that Verstappen’s sprint win saw him extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 118 points, ahead of the final race before the summer break.