Oscar Piastri has said that fighting for podiums during his rookie FIA Formula 1 World Championship season was a ‘distant dream’ after a poor start to the year for his McLaren F1 Team.
McLaren began the year with an uncompetitive car that struggled to fight for points, with Technical Director James Key paying for the mediocre start as he lost his job with the Woking-based squad.
However, updates to the car brought to the MCL60 ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix has turned around their fortunes, with Lando Norris taking consecutive second place finishes in the British and Hungarian Grand Prix.
Piastri has also shown himself to be quick, with a second-place finish coming in the Sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps, and although his first Sunday podium has yet to materialise, he has been more than a match for his more experienced team-mate Norris.
“I think before the season maybe we thought that that could be possible in the right circumstances, with maybe a few cars not finishing,” Piastri is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“Of course, once we got the season underway, it was a pretty distant dream that we’d be able to compete for the top three. And to now be here consistently for the last three weekends is pretty remarkable.
“It’s been amazing for me of course. It’s always a nice motivation when you know you can do a good job, the car is there to finish in the top three.”
Despite the recent upturn in form, Piastri knows he still has a way to go to be able to extract everything out of the car if he is to maximise his potential every weekend. However, having a strong benchmark alongside him in Norris is helping him improve his driving each and every weekend.
“I don’t think it changes too much of what I’m trying to do myself,” Piastri added. “I’m always trying to get the most out of myself.
“I still have plenty to learn and just getting back up to speed with some things still, so from that aspect, it doesn’t change too much. But when you can walk away with a trophy or a sprint plaque thing it’s cool. So yeah, hopefully, we can get some more and keep pushing forward.
“I’m very happy where I am, I think my season’s been quite good for the most part. I think there’s definitely been some mistakes or moments I wish I could have had again, but with hindsight, it’s very easy to say those kinds of things.
“I’m happy with where I’m at driving-wise, there’s still a lot to improve, a lot to learn.
“I’ve got a very strong team-mate to learn from who just by being a benchmark is a big help for me getting back up to speed, so yeah, I’m happy where I am.”