Oscar Piastri will race in front of his home fans in Melbourne this weekend for the first time as the young Australian competes in his first Australian Grand Prix weekend.
The McLaren F1 Team driver has not enjoyed the best of starts to his FIA Formula 1 World Championship career, with a retirement in Bahrain and a fifteenth-place finish in Saudi Arabia leaving him without a point.
However, he is leaving that all behind as he focuses on the race weekend at Albert Park, and he is looking forward to racing in front of his home fans and hopefully fighting for a points finish.
“It’s great to be heading to Melbourne for my home Grand Prix,” said Piastri. “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.
“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.”
Piastri says he ticked a couple of boxes off his early 2023 wish list last time out in Saudi Arabia, with the Australian qualifying inside the top ten on the Saturday and seeing the chequered flag for the first time in his career on the Sunday, albeit down in fifteenth place after a first lap front wing change.
“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,” Piastri added.
“There is a long way to go this season. We’ll keep on pushing hard as a team and my learning curve continues.”
“We’re going to fight hard with the aim of securing a successful result” – Lando Norris
Team-mate Lando Norris is also still seeking his first top ten finish of 2023, the Briton finishing a lowly seventeenth in both of the opening two events after troubled Sundays.
A hydraulic problem meant regular trips to the pits in Bahrain, whilst a front wing change on lap two, ironically for hitting debris from Piastri’s sister car, ruined his day in Saudi Arabia.
Norris has fond memories of Albert Park having made his Grand Prix debut at the track back in 2019, and he scored a top ten finish twelve months ago on his second outing, the first on the new, quicker layout.
“I’m looking forward to being back in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend,” said Norris. “I made my Formula 1 debut at Albert Park in 2019, so it’s a special race for me and one I scored points at last year on the new circuit layout.
“After a frustrating weekend in Jeddah, I’ve been looking forward to getting back on track to make some positive steps forward. I’ve spent time at the factory working hard with the team to prepare myself and the sessions we’ve put in on the sim have been beneficial.
“The focus is on improving race by race and we’re going to fight hard with the aim of securing a successful result this weekend.”