Local hero Piastri ready for ‘experience to remember’ in Melbourne

This weekend, Oscar Piastri will race for the first time on home soil as an F1 driver, and the McLaren rookie expects the special atmosphere surrounding the event to make the latter an experience that he’ll remember.

Piastri suffered a frustrating baptism of fire in Bahrain where mistakes cost him a spot in Q2 while his race was undermined by an electrical issue.

But in Jeddah last time out, the 21-year-old made the Q3 cut – contrary to his teammate Lando Norris – but was unlucky on race day, with a contact forcing him into an early stop for a front wing change that compromised his evening.

F1’s third round will hopefully allow for Piastri to enjoy a clean race, but the predominant aspect of his weekend will inevitably be his mere presence on the grid as a local hero.

“It’s great to be heading to Melbourne for my home grand prix,” the young gun said in McLaren’s Australian Grand Prix preview.

“I grew up in the suburbs of the city and it is a special feeling to be returning as an F1 driver. It’s set to be a fantastic atmosphere and I can’t wait to get there and be a part of it.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the home crowd and all of the papaya fans.

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This will be the first time that I’ve raced at Albert Park and I’m sure it will be an experience that I remember. The weather is usually changeable here so it could be an interesting one.

“Securing a starting position of P8 in my second-ever F1 quali and ticking another box by finishing a full grand prix was extremely satisfying in Jeddah, although Sunday was not seamless.

“There is a long way to go this season. We’ll keep on pushing hard as a team and my learning curve continues.”

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As the center of attention of the fans and of the local media, Piastri will be facing many distractions in Melbourne. However, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella doesn’t believe he’ll need to keep his driver in a bubble.

“He is a very calm guy, I think he will be able to keep himself in the bubble,” Stella explained.

“But certainly we’ll have to make sure that he can stay focused on racing, and he can stay focused on keeping up with this exceptional rate of development session after session.”

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