Piastri edges closer to F2 title with Sprint Race win

After managing to secure his fourth consecutive Pole Position on Friday, Prema’s Oscar Piastri won his fourth race of the season and extended his title lead over his teammate Robert Schwartzman to 48 points before the Feature Race on Sunday.

By Tyler Foster

Starting P3 on the grid as a result of his 8th place finish in the first Sprint Race on Saturday, he managed to overtake Bent Viscaal for P2 on the first lap after Pole Sitter Jehan Deruvala battled with the Dutch Trident driver. Deruvala led, when on lap 9, following a Safety Car restart, Deruvala locked up going into turn one and missed the corner but re-joined the circuit and maintained his lead. He subsequently received a time penalty for this error.

In a battle on lap 14 and 15, Piastri passed Deruvala who then retook the lead on the start straight. Piastri finally took the lead for good on lap 17. Following this, the Australian managed the fastest lap before a late Safety Car ended proceedings.

Alongside Piastri, Bent Viscaal managed second-place to bring home his second podium of the season for Trident while current championship runner-up and Prema teammate Robert Schwartzman finished in third.

“It was pretty action packed once again. I was basically waiting for DRS to get past Jehan [Deruvala] but then he picked up the pace when DRS was active. That made life a bit more difficult but he had a massive lock-up into turn one so I knew after that that his tyres would be pretty wrecked. I also knew he had a five-second penalty and I knew Christian [Lundgaard] had one behind me. I kind of knew there was a possibility of fastest lap so I wanted to go for that and also I wanted to win on track because who doesn’t want to win on track.”

“I probably didn’t need to make that move. Jehan [Deruvala] moved a little bit under breaking which caught me by surprise. After that the pace was really strong and I navigated all the safety cars and all the other drama.”

“I think his breaks were just really cold because it seemed like we braked in the same spot but he just went straight and locked the tyres obviously which seemed to me like cold brakes. I wasn’t sure if he’d get a penalty for that or not. I was just treating it like he didn’t have a penalty because at the end of the day I wasn’t actually in front of him before he hit the brakes. Either way I wanted to get past him on track.”

Being so close to closing out the Drivers’ Championship for himself, Piastri could be excused for feeling anxious about the final races of the season, however the Australian has remained calm and ice-cool in his approach to the end of the season. He spoke after the race to  selected media including F1 Feeder Series about this mental toughness.

“I think being in this position twice before definitely helps and this year it’s a bit more comfortable than the last two years, especially last year. I think my personality is quite relaxed as it is. I also get some assistance with mental coaching to help with that which especially when it comes to these critical moments of the year, pays off.”

“I feel really comfortable with the car. I think my understanding of the F2 car is far more than it ever was in F3. I just have more confidence than I did last year to go ahead and perform.”

This new track is proving to be a driver favourite already but has proven to be tough to overtake on with such a tight twisty sector one spreading the field out. Piastri was asked whether he thought the track was easy to overtake on.

“I’m not sure I’d agree that it’s one of the easiest to overtake on to be honest. I think mainly because of the three DRS zones, that’s what helps, especially if the car in front of you doesn’t have DRS like Jehan [Deruvala]. The first two DRS zones kind of get you close for that third one.”

“I tried to pass Jehan [Deruvala] into the last corner and got the move done but it didn’t work in the end, he got straight back past. The final overtake I did, he was kind of half defending for a few laps and I think with his five-second penalty he probably didn’t want to give up too much time so I tried the outside a couple of times and then I decided the inside was the way to go. He made life a little bit difficult under braking but after that he gave it up quite easily.”

“It’s a pretty physical circuit. I think throwing in the heat as well, especially race one was tough. It’s the high-speed corners but also the fact that the straights aren’t straights. We don’t have power steering obviously so even the straights take quite a bit of effort.”

Piastri knows that with every race, he edges closer to not only winning the Drivers’ Title but also being part of a dominant Prema team that are looking almost certain to win the Constructors’ Championship. 

“It would be very nice to get the team championship, I’m sure it would make all the bosses happy. I also want to try and win the Drivers’ Championship for myself because I guess I’m a racing driver and I’m a bit selfish.”

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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