Oscar Piastri’s commanding climb from 19th to eighth was amongst the highlights of Sprint Race 2 on Sunday, but the Australian felt that it could have been even more, had he not suffered the hard-luck of being stuck behind “probably the two quickest people on track.”

The first Sprint Race ended in disaster for Piastri, who was hit by Liam Lawson after the Hitech Grand Prix driver had been tagged by Felipe Drugovich. And so, his Sprint Race 2 recovery was a case of damage limitation, especially given his lack of racing knowledge of the Baku City Circuit.

“Race 2 was pretty solid, picking up one point for eighth and two for the fastest lap was a good recovery I’d say,” said Piastri. “In the first part of the race, I was struggling a bit to get my braking references and I think that was the price we paid in race 1, as I didn't have the experience of where to brake in a race situation on heavy fuel.

“It took me a bit to get into the rhythm, but once I did, we were pretty strong in the middle. Liam Lawson qualified on pole and Dan Ticktum was very quick all weekend. They were probably the quickest people on track, and they were the drivers who I had in front of me for most of the race.

“It was quite difficult to stay with them and move with them, but we can be pretty happy with P8 and the points for the fastest lap was a nice bonus.”

Lawson ran from P19 to P8 in the second Sprint Race and took a podium in the Feature Race
Lawson ran from P19 to P8 in the second Sprint Race and took a podium in the Feature Race

The P8 finish and the additional two bonus points helped Piastri to further close the gap between himself and Guanyu Zhou in the Drivers’ Championship, with the Australian also finishing on the podium in the Feature Race.

Taking second on Sunday, the Alpine junior is now just five points behind the UNI-Virtuosi racer in the Standings.

“I think we've been strong in terms of pace from the beginning,” said Piastri. “I think we've just been getting stronger. I think in Bahrain our race pace was very strong, but we just struggled a bit in Quali, and then in Monaco I had a very strong weekend.

“Then here (in Baku), the reverse grid in Sprint Race 1 made my Saturday very hard. There are a lot of variables, and I was paying for that lack of experience, but I think our pace has been strong and it’s been another good weekend with things we can control.”