Oscar Piastri got his title bid firmly back on track in Round 7 with a Race 2 win in Barcelona, but the Australian says he needs to improve in Qualifying at the final three rounds if he wants to win the Championship.
Despite leading the standings up until Round 5, the Australian is the only PREMA driver not to have taken pole this season. It’s important to note that technical issues have hampered his Qualifying potential at times, but his consistency and race pace have been the saviour of his season so far, although he doesn’t believe this will be enough.
“Firstly, we've had a lot of technical issues,” he said. “I've had a technical issue every weekend so far. Luckily, this weekend, it was just for a lap in practice, but that's still not ideal and they certainly hampered the last weekend in Silverstone.
“Before that, it was not quite maximising Qualifying. It's been my weakness so far, so that's something I need to rectify for the last three rounds. I can't keep relying on races like this to pull me through in the championship. Logan's (Sargeant) qualifying form has been pretty dominant.
“Round 5 at Silverstone really hurt me a lot with the technical issue in Qualifying. It's been various things, but Qualifying is the key one I still need to improve.”
Sunday’s Sprint Race victory was the perfect example of his brilliant racecraft. The PREMA racer flung himself from fifth place off the line and had fought his way to P1 by the fourth corner.
It’s the type of stunning performance that has been the cornerstone of Piastri’s campaign so far. He then displayed another key element of race performance – tyre management.
“Obviously, my start and my first lap made all the difference,” he continued. “I was really happy with that. It's where I've been struggling a bit so far this year - starts and first laps - so to have a start like that, where I went from fifth to first in three corners, was very positive.
“After that, I just had to push quite hard early on to try and break out of the DRS, and then once I did that, I could manage the pace a little bit. The last safety car threw in a bit of a curve ball, but I just got out of DRS again so the last couple of laps weren't too tricky. Pushing to get out of DRS was the key after the start.”
With just three rounds to go this season - which again take place in the form of a triple-header- the Renault junior says he is feeling confident. Especially given that the first of those takes place in Spa, his “favourite track on the calendar.”
“I'm really looking forward to going back to Spa,” he continued. “I always look forward to racing there. It will be quite interesting. It's not necessarily a track where pace is king. You've obviously got the long first straight, and up through Eau Rouge, so I'm feeling confident for it.
“I think we should be quick. We've been quick every weekend, so I just need to maximise Qualifying. I'm looking forward to Spa that's for sure.”