Shepparton News

Piastri is bonzer at Monza

OSCAR PROVES NO SLOUCH AS HE FIGHTS HIS WAY TO VICTORY AND MAINTAINS CHAMPIONSH­IP LEAD

- By Aydin Payne

There were loud cheers across Shepparton households on Sunday night as emerging Australian motorsport star Oscar Piastri claimed a stirring Formula 2 victory.

Piastri, who has strong family ties to the Goulburn Valley, saluted in the feature race at Monza and extended his championsh­ip lead by 15 points.

It was the rookie driver’s maiden feature race win and second win of the F2 season.

What made the reigning F3 champion’s heroics even sweeter was that he was first past the chequered f lag ahead of his championsh­ip rival Guanyu Zhou.

Speaking post-race, the PREMA Racing driver said he was thrilled to walk away with another race triumph.

“I’m pretty happy. Leading the championsh­ip is always good and extending it is even better,” Piastri said.

“I really wanted to get a feature race win on the board, that was the kind of one thing I was missing this year.

“I like to think I’m ticking a few boxes; it feels good.”

Piastri enjoyed a sublime weekend at the Temple of Speed.

It all kicked off on Friday when the Alpine Academy driver clinched back-to-back pole positions in qualifying, before finishing fourth and seventh in the following sprint races respective­ly.

But it was the 20-year-old’s performanc­e in the feature race that had many onlookers sit up and take notice.

Piastri showed race craft beyond his years in the 30-lap race that was impacted by four safety car appearance­s.

Each time Piastri looked destined to break away from the pack he was forced to bunch up the field.

The second safety car deployment before lap 10 had Piastri and Zhou pit.

The remaining drivers on alternate pit strategies stayed out, most noticeably, eventual third placegette­r Dan Ticktum.

Piastri had worked his way up behind Ticktum into second place, but was unable to pass the Briton despite being on the fresher tyres.

When the third safety car came out on lap 22, it allowed Ticktum to pit and once more Piastri held the lead ahead of Zhou.

However, Piastri’s supporters in Shepparton had their hearts in their mouths after the restart.

Piastri nearly lost the lead at the first turn when he locked up his tyres, which allowed Zhou to take advantage into the next chicane.

But with skill and bravery to boot, Piastri lurched his car back in the lead for what was a race-winning move.

It was a nervous watch for the final five laps — with Ticktum hot on his heels — until the fourth and final safety car allowed for Piastri to clinch the chequered f lag.

“It was reasonably calm until the (second) last safety car,” Piastri said at the press conference.

“I just didn’t quite get the brakes in the right window and then locked up into turn one on the front left, which is far from ideal around here because it does all the work.

“I had to defend from Zhou into the second chicane, so I was happy that I could keep him behind after that.

“At that point I wasn’t managing the gap to Zhou, I was pushing pretty hard. I knew I had to give it absolutely everything in case Dan was coming. I guess we’ll never know how that race could have finished without the last safety car.”

● The next time Piastri will be in action is September 24-26 when the championsh­ip heads to Sochi, Russia.

 ?? Pictures: PREMA Racing ?? Party time: Oscar Piastri (middle) is hosed by champagne on the podium.
Pictures: PREMA Racing Party time: Oscar Piastri (middle) is hosed by champagne on the podium.
 ??  ?? Emerging star: Oscar Piastri converted his pole position into a race win in the feature race at Monza.
Emerging star: Oscar Piastri converted his pole position into a race win in the feature race at Monza.
 ??  ?? Quick wheels: Oscar Piastri in action during the F2 action at world-famous circuit Monza.
Quick wheels: Oscar Piastri in action during the F2 action at world-famous circuit Monza.
 ??  ?? Master and the apprentice: Oscar Piastri celebrates with his mentor and former F1 star Mark Webber.
Master and the apprentice: Oscar Piastri celebrates with his mentor and former F1 star Mark Webber.

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