Oscar Piastri will be racing around Albert Park, Melbourne for the first time as a full time, albeit rookie Formula 1 driver, and naturally he is excited about it.
This will be the third race for the Australian young driver with McLaren, and while his first in Bahrain was nothing to write home about (qualified 18th and retired in the race), in Jeddah he made it into Q3 qualifying ninth, but finished 15th.
The pressure will now be mounting on Piastri as he will race for the first time in front of his home crowd, and as if that is not enough, he has to do so in a below par McLaren MCL60, with a team undergoing a technical shakeup as James Key recently left his position as Technical Director after failing to deliver a decent car this season.
Speaking in McLaren‘s race preview, Piastri said: “It’s great to be heading to Melbourne for my home grand prix. 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,” he added.
Jeddah was a decent outing for McLaren’s rookie
Looking back on Jeddah; the young Aussie said: “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.
“There is a long way to go this season. We’ll keep on pushing hard as a team and my learning curve continues,” he concluded.
Lando Norris also commented on racing at the venue where he made his F1 debut with McLaren back in 2019; he said: “I’m looking forward to being back in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
“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.
Norris made an uncharacteristic error in Saudi Arabia qualifying, hitting the wall and damaging his car, which put him out of contention from Q1, and he is naturally looking forward to put that behind him.
“After a frustrating weekend in Jeddah, I’ve been looking forward to getting back on track to make some positive steps forward,” he said.
“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,” the Briton concluded.