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Oscar Piastri has secured his first Formula 1 pole position, albeit a Sprint one, as he topped the Sprint Shootout at Qatar in a McLaren 1-2, ahead of tonight’s race.
The fight for pole
The pole position was a surprise for everyone, including Piastri, in a session that featured plenty of action and drama. In the fight for pole, Max Verstappen set a rapid lap time early on, but that was deleted as he exceeded track limits at Turn 5. Lando Norris was at the top of the leaderboard next, as he beat his teammate to the line by just 39 thousandths of a second.
The battle was not over though, as all drivers had one more lap to try and take pole position. First across the line was Verstappen, but he could only manage third. Then it was Piastri’s turn to cross the line and he did it with the fastest lap of the session, 82 thousandths of a second faster than his teammate. Norris was fast behind him though, until a mistake in the final corner of his last lap meant he was unable to improve.
P1 for @OSCARPIASTRI! THE ROOKIE! 🤩 INCREDIBLE LAP.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 7, 2023
Piastri on Sprint pole: What he had to say
Of course, Oscar Piastri was delighted with his brilliant pole lap and the way the session went. Yesterday, he was having a post-qualifying interview with Naomi Schiff when his best qualifying lap was deleted and he dropped from third to sixth, but this time the conversation between the two was a much happier occasion:
Very, very happy, I might just give the FIA five minutes first to make sure I am on pole! As long as that is okay, I am very, very happy! It was a pretty good lap and then I saw Lando on the big screen as he made a mistake on the final corner. I don’t know that his lap time was looking like. But very, very happy.
Piastri also commented on the effect of the changes on the track, proposed by the FIA earlier today to reduce the chances of punctures, as it detected issues with the tyres. The drivers only had ten minutes to get acclimated before qualifying, so the Australian revealed that the reprofiling of a couple of corners changed his approach a little bit:
It changed it a bit. I think that also because it is just a painted kerb it is impossible to know where it is, we can’t see it. It makes things a bit more difficult, but obviously it is the same for everyone. I struggled quite a bit in the first two parts of this qualifying and then I got my act together a bit more for the last one. But yeah, very, very happy and great work from the team.
Finally, the rookie spoke about his chances in today’s Sprint race, which will last nineteen laps, a third of the usual Grand Prix distance.
We’ll see. Obviously Max is only starting third. So yeah, he is not a million miles away. But we will try our best, obviously a big question mark on tyres, but we will do our best and see what we can pull off.
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