McLaren’s Oscar Piastri has hailed his maiden F1 podium as a “pretty special,” achievement at 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.
After experiencing a confident Friday Practice inside the top ten in both FP1 and FP2, Piastri managed to raise his game with third position in FP3 before he surprisingly qualified second ahead of teammate, Lando Norris who had outpaced him throughout Practice.
Piastri however felt that he “could have done a better job,” at the final chicane on his first Q3 lap but was “quite happy” with the lap overall to secure second on the grid and his first front row start for a Grand Prix – having previously achieved the feat in Belgium albeit for the Sprint Race.
The 22 year-old Australian added that McLaren had brought upgrades which gave him belief that the team had “a decent chance” of a strong result, but iterated that he had to drive at his maximum performance to make the belief into a reality.
Piastri however got jumped at the race start by Norris for second as he found himself blocked off by eventual race winner, Max Verstappen as the pair duelled for the lead on the run to Turn 1.
McLaren’s decision to pit Piastri first however saw the Melbourne-born driver jump Norris until the team intervened and order a switch around of position on Lap 27, due to Norris demonstrating superior pace to try and mount an ultimate futile fight for the win.
Piastri eventually finished third which secured him a maiden F1 podium in a Grand Prix to go alongside his second-placed finish at the Belgian Sprint, with this podium in Japan also having come just days after he signed a new contract at McLaren.
Speaking post-race, Piastri described his first proper Grand Prix podium in F1 as a memorable moment as he explained: “This feels pretty special, and I’ll remember it for a long, long time. I can’t thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity.
“Not many people get to have an F1 podium, and I’ve managed it in my first season, so thank you very much team. It wasn’t my best race ever, but it was enough to get a trophy.”
Piastri however is confident that he can get more podiums in the future as he added: “Our pace was strong, and I think in the second half of the race I got more into a rhythm. I’m super-happy and very excited to try and get some more.”
McLaren Team Principal, Andrea Stella meanwhile applauded Piastri’s result as “a phenomenal achievement”, as he became the first rookie to get on the podium since Lance Stroll at 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.