Anticipation is ramping up for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, but for McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, there’s an extra level of excitement as he gears up for his home Formula 1 debut.
Melbourne-born Piastri hasn’t yet raced at the city’s Albert Park Circuit but the rookie gears up for his first home start this Sunday. Piastri had to retire early from his F1 debut in Bahrain but came home 15th last time out in Saudi Arabia and looks to score his first F1 points this weekend.
“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,” said Piastri, who hails from the Melbourne suburb of Brighton.
“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.”
McLaren are however one of two teams – along with AlphaTauri – yet to score a point ahead of the third round of the season. Piastri conceded that there is a “long way to go” as the team in orange look to get back to points-scoring ways.
“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.”
Fresh from a visit to McLaren’s new wind tunnel complex, Lando Norris echoed his team mate’s comments and said: “After a frustrating weekend in Jeddah, I’ve been looking forward to getting back on track to make some positive steps forward. 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.”
Piastri won’t be the only one making his home debut at Albert Park this weekend as F2 driver Jack Doohan plus F3 drivers Christian Mansell, Hugh Barter and Tommy Smith prepare to race in Melbourne.