Piastri “thanking the Safety Car drivers” after holding off Verstappen for win

Formula 1

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Qatar sprint race winner Oscar Piastri admitted he was thankful for the third Safety Car period that allowed him to hold off Max Verstappen.

Piastri took his first sprint race win in Formula 1 in his rookie season at the Losail International Circuit, finishing just under two seconds ahead of Verstappen, who clinched the 2023 world championship in the process.

The McLaren driver won pole position in sprint race qualifying and led the early laps after starting on medium tyres. Despite being caught and passed by George Russell, who started on softs, Piastri managed to overtake the Mercedes when his tyres began to fade and reclaim the lead.

“It’s been a really good day,” Piastri said after the race. “Obviously started off well in [qualifying] and a pretty crazy sprint [race] this evening. So I’m happy to come out on top.

“Also I think it was really exciting for everyone to watch as well, with the soft guys at the start. I thought I was in a lot of trouble with how much pace they had, but they dropped off just as quickly. So yeah, very, very happy.”

Those who started on soft tyres appeared to enjoy an early advantage over rivals on mediums, but Piastri says he gained confidence when the soft runners began to fade.

“I think at the start it was a bit difficult to judge with the Safety Cars,” he explained. “That wasn’t helping the medium tyre at all because it would cool down way too much.

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“I think it was when Carlos [Sainz Jnr] behind me tried to overtake, after that they dropped back very quickly. From one lap to the next, George lost a lot of pace.

“At that point I knew I had good rhythm, it was just how quickly Max was going to come through, how quickly Lando [Norris] was going to come through as well. So that was stressful at times, but glad we could see it out.”

Verstappen had started third but had been swamped by Russell and the two Ferraris on softs at the start, falling to fifth. Eventually Verstappen was able to pass the Ferraris and began to pressure Russell just before the third and final Safety Car period on lap 11.

“That last Safety Car was pretty nice for me, I’ll be honest,” Piastri said.

“I knew that I had to try and get as much of a gap whilst Max was behind George as quickly as I could, which I managed to get out enough. And then the pace at the end was also pretty good too. But once I think it was about 10 laps to go, eight laps to go at that point, I thought it might be a tough ask to the end. So I’m thanking the Safety Car drivers today.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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One comment on “Piastri “thanking the Safety Car drivers” after holding off Verstappen for win”

  1. This will not be the last time Piastri wins after holding off Max.

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