Piastri arrives ahead of Aussie F1 grand prix tilt

Oliver Caffrey |

Melbourne-born Oscar Piastri heads into his second Australian Grand Prix full of confidence.
Melbourne-born Oscar Piastri heads into his second Australian Grand Prix full of confidence.

Oscar Piastri will take genuine confidence into his second Australian Formula One Grand Prix start.

The Melbourne-born driver finished a respectable eighth on debut at Albert Park last year.

That appearance was just his third F1 race, following a tepid beginning to his career at the sport’s highest level.

Piastri returns to his home town far more experienced and assured behind the wheel as his McLaren team quietly go about mixing it with the big guns.

The 22-year-old placed fourth in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, denied a place on the podium by Red Bull flyers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“That was the most amount of points we could have got, so I’m very happy,” Piastri said.

“I’m really looking forward to racing at my local circuit in front of the Aussie fans.”

Albert Park has been a graveyard for Australian drivers, with Mark Webber – Piastri’s mentor – and Daniel Ricciardo having never placed better than fourth at the circuit during their long careers.

After being relegated to promotional duties at last year’s race, Ricciardo will compete at Melbourne for the first time since 2022.

The 34-year-old has joined Red Bull’s secondary team, known as RB, but has been well off the pace so far this season.

Ricciardo finished 13th in Bahrain and 16th in Saudi Arabia, prompting former world champion Alan Jones to describe the Aussie racer as “treading water” in his career.

The local hopes will have to somehow find a way of surging past reigning three-time world champion Verstappen.

The dominant Dutchman has shown no signs of decline early in the season, cantering to a 15-point lead in the driver standings.

Verstappen last year broke through for his first win in Australia, coming out on top in a chaotic race that featured three red flags and eight of the 20 drivers failing to finish.

The 26-year-old led a last-lap motorcade when drivers were barred from overtaking as the crash-laden event ended not as a race, but a scripted procession.

Practice will get underway at Albert Park on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s race.