If you’d like to watch our Oscar Piastri Interview, you can do so on our YouTube channel here!
Once upon a time, a young boy started racing radio-controlled cars. He was very quick driving them so he started racing go-karts. Soon he was winning races and championships at the highest levels of karting. So he moved into single-seaters where he was soon winning races and championships. He moved up the ladder until he was on the brink of F1 and in the primary feeder series to F1 itself. Where he started winning races…
Crazily, we are not talking about Sir Lewis Hamilton. This is all about Oscar Piastri. But the similarities and parallels are uncanny. This is why as fans of the feeder series we thought it worthy of note.
When we caught up for an interview with Oscar Piastri, he was in his hotel in Bahrain. With the new season fast approaching, he was acclimatising to the new time zone in the run-up to the race weekend. As you’d expect he was excited and eager to be in his F2 Prema. Yet incredibly calm about the whole experience as well.
We’ve written about Oscar Piastri on GP Grandstand before. Click here if you’d like to read a brief summary of his career to date and our predictions on his F1 chances. All written pre-Bahrain of course! The main thing to note is that heading into this season, Piastri is the youngest and least experienced of the trio of Alpine’s F2 drivers. It’ll be Guanyu Zhou’s third season, Christian Lundgaard’s second and Piastri’s first. Does he have any worries about Renault, now Alpine’s, disappointment with their Academy drivers in 2020?
Not really no. Not off the back of two championships! I think I’m pretty solid and now that I’m in F2 there’s not really a set performance target. First thing is to do well and if a seat doesn’t open up naturally, I have to pry one open with my results.
This is a very good point. Piastri is coming into F2 on the back of two championship wins in two years. There’s no question of his talent. As we saw after the interview, he won the second Sprint race in Bahrain so is already an F2 winner. Oscar Piasti made a further point in our interview that was fascinating in its clinical dissection of the reality of being an Academy Driver.
Even if I’m beating Zhou and Christian in F2. If we are 7th, 8th and 9th in the championship, none of us will be in F1.
As we all saw, come Bahrain, the Alpine F2 drivers all had a fantastic race weekend. Zhou scored pole and the Feature race win. The three of them locked out the podium for the second Sprint race. And before that, they finished 5th, 6th and 7th in the season opener. If they keep this momentum going for the season, Alpine are going to have a real seat filling headache ahead of them.
Piastri is no stranger to racing Alpine drivers for titles either. His 2019 Eurocup campaign was against Victor Martins who was already a Renault Academy driver. Oscar’s reward for his title victory would be joining Martins in the Academy. He revealed that they didn’t really speak to each other during the title fight. It wasn’t until a shared hotel stay in Tenerife post-2019 when they could finally get to know each other and become friends.
The legendary Australian F1 driver, Mark Webber, is now Piastri’s manager. The pair were connected through Simon Sostaric who worked with Webber as a physical trainer throughout his Red Bull and Porsche LMP1 days. Sostaric contacted Piastri to offer his services. As 2019 progressed it became clear that a route to F1 was opening up. Team Oscar Piastri recognised that they would need help with management.
Webber had already managed former GP2 driver Mitch Evans. The Sostaric connection connected the dots, and a deal was struck. Rounding out Piastri’s Australian support crew is Kim Keedle who is his personal physiotherapist. Keedle has spent the last three years working with Romain Grosjean. No stranger to keeping an F1 athlete in shape then!
Hailing from Melbourne, home of the Australian Grand Prix since 1996, it’s no surprise that Oscar Piastri grew up wanting to be an F1 driver. So you can imagine how gutted he was when he was scheduled to be at the Grand Prix with Renault last year. With this year’s Australian Grand Prix currently postponed until November, Piastri is champing at the bit to be at Albert Park as part of the F1 circus.
We’ve discussed on this site before about the new calendar and the move to three races per weekend. As ever, we didn’t miss the opportunity to ask one of the drivers. He is obviously disappointed to be missing so many of the European races, Spa especially. But Silverstone is one of his favourite tracks along with Monza. Piastri is very happy to be going to Monaco, too.
If you took half of the tracks on the F3 calendar and put them on ours, it would be the best calendar I’ve ever seen.
Asking Oscar Piastri to reflect on his 2020 F3 title in our interview was absorbing. Piastri was hit with a couple of penalties in the run to the end of the season. As he puts it, “I didn’t necessarily agree with”, but as he also says it kind of doesn’t matter as he won. He is quick to acknowledge that it helped that Logan Sargeant’s championship ended in a collision on lap 1 at the final round at Monza. It effectively handed the title to Piastri. Although the Aussie had to mitigate against Theo Pourchaire in those final races.
Does Piastri think he can win the F2 title this season? He would be following in the footsteps of George Russell and Charles Leclerc, which is lofty company. Unsurprisingly, he thinks he can do it. He is a racing driver after all. But he isn’t giving himself any pressure on getting the job done. Being in the 2020 conquering Prema team certainly gives him a boost on making it a reality.
You can find our full interview with Oscar Piastri below: