Piastri Defends McLaren in Australian Grand Prix Incident Despite Podium Miss

Oscar Piastri found himself in a challenging position during the Australian Grand Prix when he was asked to yield third place to Lando Norris, a move that ultimately dashed his hopes of a podium finish on his home turf.

The McLaren driver, who commenced the race from fifth position, swiftly ascended to fourth following Max Verstappen‘s retirement due to a right-rear brake malfunction, resulting in a fiery exit from the race.

As the event progressed, Piastri’s fourth-place standing evolved into third after the initial round of pit stops. His teammate, Norris, opted for a longer first stint, enabling him to rejoin the race with fresher tires and superior pace.

Consequently, McLaren instructed Piastri to cede his position to Norris, aiming to bolster the latter’s chances of challenging the Ferraris driven by Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Despite Piastri’s cooperation, he finished the race trailing Norris by a significant margin of 30 seconds.

Piastri, however, defended McLaren’s decision to employ team orders, emphasizing its fairness despite the personal setback it entailed. In his view, the strategic maneuver was justifiable within the context of competitive racing.

“For me, it was completely fair,” Piastri said. “He qualified in front of me yesterday, he went a bit longer on the first stop, he was catching me and quicker at that point of the race.

“At that point, I was keeping with Leclerc, and Lando was catching both of us. So I was honestly kind of hoping he’d pass me and go and get Charles. But yeah, I mean, that was completely fair.

“Of course, at home, I would have loved to be able to stay in third but for me, it was completely fair.”

In the latter part of his home race, Piastri encountered difficulties, culminating in a significant error at the penultimate corner during lap 39 of the 58-lap race.

The Australian driver experienced a lock-up, causing him to veer onto the grass, which resulted in his tires graining and a consequent loss of several seconds.

He continued: “A couple of mistakes when it mattered, which is a bit frustrating. But today’s been a solid result.

“A little bit of an off at the end of the second stint, and I grained the tyres a little bit there as well. I just struggled a bit in that part of the race. Apart from that, it was a pretty strong day.”