Oscar Piastri was ‘in all sorts of trouble’ in Baku food poisoning battle

Thomas Maher
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Oscar Piastri’s manager Mark Webber has praised the young McLaren driver for getting through a tough weekend in Baku.

Oscar Piastri had a horrible weekend in Azerbaijan, coming down with severe food poisoning early in the event that didn’t ease up throughout the three intense days of track action.

But while Piastri was struggling off-track, including sitting out media sessions due to the extent of his illness, the Australian rookie performed admirably on track to closely match teammate Lando Norris through qualifying.

Coming home 10th in the Sprint race, well ahead of Norris as the British driver did an ill-fated experiment with starting on the soft tyre, Piastri was unlucky not to score points on race day as he finished in 11th place.

Mark Webber explains how badly Oscar Piastri was struggling

Reflecting on the weekend, Piastri’s manager Mark Webber highlighted just how well his driver had performed in Baku despite his illness.

“Yeah, it was pretty solid,” Webber told host Tom Clarkson on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Saturday, in particular, was very special, considering he was in all sorts of trouble during the day.”

Asked about how bad the situation was, and whether Piastri was vomiting, Webber laughed.

“Yeah, he was,” he said.

“We don’t go into too much detail, but it was not pretty!”

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Referring to a famous incident at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix when Webber himself had food poisoning and vomited into his helmet while racing, Clarkson asked whether Piastri had done the same.

“No, he didn’t,” Webber replied.

“But he knuckled down, the team did a great job. The doctor did a great job. As elite sports people every now and again, there’s some bumps in the road sometimes with the health – in terms of the travel we do and he just got caught out here.”

According to Sky’s Ted Kravitz, Piastri made it through the weekend with his sole nutrition being a few slices of dry toast and lost over three kilogrammes.

Mark Webber: Saturday was a special performance

With Saturday being the day on which Piastri’s health was at its worst, Webber said his on-track performance was particularly noteworthy as Piastri reached the chequered flag in 10th place – unluckily for him, the position is not a points-scoring one in the Sprint, with points only allocated to the top eight finishers.

But Webber pointed to his Friday qualifying performance as being particularly noteworthy.

“He did well, I think some of the callouts are his qualifying performance in Q3 on Friday was on the scrubbed tyre… he didn’t use the last set there,” he said.

“So that was a special session for him. He’s been getting the most out of the car really, the updates have worked well. So it was another huge weekend for him to put into the hard drive for future events.”

With McLaren bringing along the first upgrade package for the MCL60 in Baku, Webber was asked whether the mood in the camp was improving.

“I think that they have definitely made some improvements, which they’re happy with,” he said.

“Of course, no one in this paddock is resting on their laurels. We all know that everyone bringing upgrades is a broken record because everyone is. So you’ve just got to go out and deliver when you can.”