Arguably the most consistent driver on the grid so far this season, Oscar Piastri has stepped up seamlessly from Formula 3, taking the Championship lead of Guanyu Zhou in the fourth round of the season. Leading his fellow Alpine junior by five points, how would he grade his own performances?
The PREMA Racing driver fills out his mid-season report card…
NAME: Oscar Piastri TEAM: PREMA Racing AGE: 20 PODIUMS: 5 WINS: 1
RATING OUT OF 10: 8 ½
“I think I’ve had a really strong first half of the year but there have been a few moments where I could have been better, like the Bahrain Feature Race. There have been a few little moments that could have possibly cost us quite a bit more than they actually did, like the pitstop in Baku and the mistake at Monaco in the Feature Race. Fortunately, I kept going, but it nearly ended in tears.
“There have been a few moments like that one where I probably made what you would call rookie mistakes. That is an area I can improve on. At Silverstone, I think I did a really solid job there, it was probably the first weekend where I didn’t really make any mistakes that were potentially very costly.
“We struggled a bit in the Feature Race, but I don’t think there was much more that I could have done to improve our result in that one. It wasn’t a major mistake that cost us points.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON SO FAR?
“I think that it has been a really promising first half of the year, we've just been getting stronger and stronger. I didn’t really know what to expect going into Bahrain. We'd had a pretty decent test, I would say, but I knew that I still had a fair bit to improve on, and a lot to learn.
“It is all well and good doing race runs in testing, but it is a completely different story fighting for a position in an actual race and I knew that would be something to adapt to in the first round. Since then, it has been an upward trajectory.
“I was pretty disappointed in myself for throwing away those points in the Feature Race after my battle with Dan Ticktum. In hindsight, it was a battle where I probably shouldn't have fought so hard, but besides that, I think that it has been a really strong year with very few mistakes.
“We've been consistent, which is half the reason we are at the front, but I also think that we've been really quick. Silverstone was the epitome of our pace so far.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE STRONGEST ASPECT OF YOUR SEASON SO FAR?
“Consistency. Everyone has had their ups and downs so far. I think everyone can say that they have had a fair few down moments. I think for me, the Bahrain Feature Race and then getting taken out at Baku in Race 1, are the two moments that stick in my mind.
“The strongest point has been consistency. Even in Baku Race 2, when I had to start at the back, I still managed to score points. That is something that I see as a strength of mine, not just this year, but in general. Being consistent and being able to pick up points whenever it is possible. I think we've probably done that a bit better than most others. That’s important because I think the pace at the front is very even.
“There is no one who is clearly quickest, it has been a pretty mixed group of winners at the moment.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE WEAKEST ASPECT OF THE SEASON SO FAR?
“I don’t feel that we are particularly weak in any area. Our race pace has always been good, and we showed in Silverstone that our Quali pace can be very strong as well. I don’t know what the quali averages are like, but I think I am probably somewhere near the top of that.
“I really don’t know to be honest. Silverstone was a little disappointing as we weren’t able to convert the pole into a win, but I wouldn’t really say that was a weakness, it was just that we didn’t get it right on that day.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT THIS SEASON?
“I have learned a lot of things, more than I had learned at this stage in F3. For everyone, the new format has been a change, it’s a bit of a mindset switch, and you have to work out how best to plan your race weekend. You always plan to qualify on pole and to win the Feature Race, but you can really gain a lot of points during the weekend by winning one of Sprint Race 1 or Sprint Race 2. It’s quite a tricky one to try and get right.
“Ideally, you just try and drive as fast as you can to finish as high up as you can, but at some tracks, such as Monaco, there was a bit of a sacrifice to try and make the best out of those two races.
“Learning how strategy works in the Feature Races has probably been the main difference for me. That, and getting used to driving on different compounds throughout the weekend, which I had never done before. I think we are pretty much on top of that now.
“I think it was a bit of a trait last year that PREMA were always quick in the races, but maybe struggled a bit in Qualifying and we are really trying to really get on top of that and put a lot of focus on that, which has taught me a lot about what the car needs to be fast and how to get it in the correct setup window. We have had a bit more time compared to when I was in F3 to go through that and it’s something that I’ve developed a bit better compared to last year.”
WHY ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON?
“I am looking forward to the second half of the season because we get to go racing again. Besides that obvious point, I am in a really good position in the championship, leading at the halfway point.
“I want to keep trying to improve myself and proving that I am F1 worthy. That is the ultimate goal, to get to F1. Given the first half of the year that I’ve had, I want to try and do that for next year. It is not going to be an easy second half of the year at all, but I think it would be silly to not try to aim to be in F1 next year. I am looking forward to trying to prove myself, but I’m mainly excited to just go racing again.”