Oscar Piastri was delighted to take victory in the sprint race at the Lusail International Circuit, although he admitted it was a stressful race on Saturday evening under the floodlights in Qatar.
The McLaren F1 Team driver started from pole position after taking top spot in the Sprint shootout earlier in the day, but he was forced to contend with three safety car interventions and the fast-starting soft tyre runners to close out victory.
Piastri lost the lead to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver George Russell just after the restart after the safety car, with the Briton utilising his soft tyre advantage early on. But with the soft tyre deteriorating quickly, Piastri was able to reclaim the lead just after the second safety car period, and held onto the win despite a third safety car late in the race.
The Australian jokingly thanked the safety cars for saving his race, with the lap count running out before Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen could close the gap to him for the lead.
“Very happy. A very stressful race,” said Piastri. “When I saw all the Soft tyre guys come through at the start, I thought we were in a bit of trouble and then their tyres fell off pretty quickly, so that was good.
“Safety Cars were my friend today, definitely once Max [Verstappen] got behind me. But the pace was reasonable and I think, in a race where you had to manage the tyres, cars on other compounds, we did a really good job, so very happy.
“Anything we can try to learn for tomorrow is going to be important as well. I thought once Max got through into second, I was going to have my work cut out – but the pace was good, I managed the tyres well and a first Sprint win sounds pretty cool.
“Finally, congratulations to Max on his third Championship, it’s a remarkable achievement.”