Rookie Oscar Piastri claimed a second consecutive podium on Sunday at the Qatar Grand Prix, an event he admits was the “hardest race of my life”.
Scorching temperatures and high humidity made the 57-lap race at the Lusail International Circuit one of survival, with several drivers having taken themselves to the medical centre after the race due to suffering from severe dehydration and heat exhaustion.
The drivers were all pushed to their absolute limits, with some of the more experienced athletes on the grid comparing it to the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Given that he’s a rookie, Piastri was very much thrown straight into the deep end; however, he once again exceeded all expectations.
Starting sixth after his best lap in Q3 was deleted for exceeding track limits, the Australian found himself in second by the exit of the first corner, thanks to George Russell and Lewis Hamilton colliding.
For a few laps, the 22-year-old tried to keep up with three-time World Champion Max Verstappen, although the Dutchman did eventually break away.
It was then a case of keeping P2 and preserving his tyres to the best of his ability, something wasn’t too challenging given that every driver was effectively forced to make three pit-stops.
Having to pit so many times did in many ways increase the intensity of the race, as it essentially made every lap a qualifying lap.
Nevertheless, Piastri held onto second and just about stayed ahead of Lando Norris, to wrap up what was a phenomenal weekend for the Aussie with his sprint win.
“It was so hot. With three stops, it was flat out every lap so it was like 57 qualifying laps … I’m happy, but it was the hardest race of my life,” Piastri said.
Whilst he would’ve loved a victory, the McLaren driver recognises that finishing second was the “most” he could’ve asked for, with Russell and Hamilton colliding having made life much easier for him.
“Very very happy, obviously – Turn 1 was nice, that was definitely in the game plan before the race,” Piastri added.
“Really impressive pace… That was the most we could have done.
“Second and third for the team is an amazing result, it’s been an amazing weekend in general. So, I’m very happy… happy that all the tyres stayed together, that was good obviously, but yeah happy with another trophy too.”