Oscar Piastri securing a front-row start for the Japanese Grand Prix has his mother scrambling for airplane tickets from Australia!
With the McLaren drivers securing second and third place on the grid for Sunday’s race at Suzuka, it was the rookie Oscar Piastri who won the intra-team battle by pipping Lando Norris to be Max Verstappen’s closest competitor for pole – albeit almost six-tenths of a second off the pace.
With the Australian driver primed for what should be a thrilling race to try securing a podium place, it led his mother Nicole, who has become a social media sensation thanks to her quippy support of her son, to post on McLaren’s celebratory post to ask: “Anyone got a cheap flight to Japan?”
Zak Brown ‘very happy’ to buy tickets for Mrs. Piastri!
Speaking to Sky F1 after the team’s sensational qualifying, McLaren CEO Zak Brown was asked whether he’d be willing to help Nicole out and get her to Japan from her home in Australia in order to watch Piastri race from his best-ever grid position.
“I’m very happy to buy her airline tickets!” Brown laughed.
“So, if you can get here, Mrs. Piastri, we want to see you tomorrow!”
With Piastri and Norris getting along well as teammates, and the Piastri family showing up to support their son as often as possible, Brown said it’s led to a tremendous atmosphere within the team.
“It’s great [for the family], it’s been a great year for him,” he said.
“He’s done such a good job and there’s such camaraderie inside the team and long may it continue. It’s gonna get tough, these guys are gonna be racing each other hard.”
Oscar Piastri: There was more time on the table
Speaking about his achievement of securing a front-row start at one of F1’s msot challenging circuits – on his first visit to the track, to boot – Piastri said he was thrilled to have taken the place, but said he was frustrated not to have improved further on his final lap in Q3 after making a mistake.
“I’m very, very happy,” he said.
“Yesterday, we thought we could be in for a solid weekend. Then, this morning, we made some good changes and the car looked quick in FP3 and I was getting more used to the track too.
“So yeah, very, very happy to be on the front row. Of course, the gap is a little bit… or a lot bigger than I would prefer! But yeah, I’m happy to be in second.
“There was a bit, I think I was about two-tenths up after the first sector. But I wasn’t going to find six! So yeah, in the end, it didn’t make much of a difference. But, of course, when you’re up on your lap before, of course, you want to keep going that way and I’m just a little bit frustrated I didn’t manage to improve on the second lap but, in the end, it didn’t matter.”
Pointed out to him that he’s the fifth Australian to start a Grand Prix from the front row, Piastri said he wasn’t overly concerned by records, but would like to break some as his career matures.
“It’s nice to have that. Obviously, there’s not been that many Australians in F1, full stop,” he said.
“It’s nice just to have that success I think, in particular, so early on in my F1 career.
“Some people don’t get this opportunity in their whole career. So, for me to have it in my first six or seven months, is a privilege. I want to try and be the next Australian to break some other records or be added to those lists. So yeah, it’s a nice thought but, of course, I want to be able to do more.”