Discovery of Piastri’s origin rejected by Red Bull launched by Brown

Massimo Costa – XPB Images

For those who were born on the other side of the world, on a continent called Oceania, and want to play sports at a high level, things get pretty complicated. There is only one rule: get on a plane and leave your land, family, friends, girlfriends for who knows how long. If you are good at pulling the basket or throwing the ball, there is only one direction – the United States. If you control the ball with your feet or the steering wheel with your hands, then you are aiming for Europe. Oscar Piastri, who made the F1 summer headlines, is one of the latest generation of Australian athletes to cross the Indian Ocean to fulfill their dream.

He did this as a child when he was 14 years old when he raced go-karts. It was 2015, and his reference was Daniel Ricciardo, who in F1 at the time was crazy about Red Bull, sowing fun and winning. A great driving force for very young Australians like Piastri who have battled on their country’s kart tracks so far but have been so active in the F1 World Championship.

And yes, because since 2002, the season that marked the debut Mark Webber Australia has a consistent presence in the starting XI. Webber ended his F1 career at the end of 2013, Ricciardo started his career in 2011 and after a short absence of 10 races in 2023 returned full-time to Alpha Tauri and Piastri started his career last March. The Australian flag has been in F1 for twenty-two years in a row thanks to just three drivers, something incredible. Not to mention the world titles of Jack Brabham, three-time champion in 1959-1960-1966, and Alan Jones in 1980.

Piastri began quietly, with the help of his family, who were clearly of Italian descent. It was the early years of the twentieth century when, from Tuscany, Mr. Piastri, apparently not too pleased with the way things were in his homeland, tried his luck by undertaking an endless journey to Melbourne. This suited him perfectly, given the family he had created. He was the great-great-grandfather of Oscar, who didn’t really care much about Italy. His father, Chris Piastri, an electronics engineer, in 2003 he co-founded HP Tuners with Keith Prochuk, which, as the slogan says, is the premier aftermarket tuning and diagnostics solution for vehicles. HP Tuners, based in Australia, soon expanded into the US and Europe and was the first sponsor of the Oscars for many years.

If Ricciardo found the right exit in Italy to race single-seat cars thanks to the careful eye of Fabio Pampado and Marco Zecchi, then Piastri, with a good sixth place in the World Junior Karting Championship, chose Great Britain, the F4 destination and the Arden team, the team, owned by the Horner family, read Red Bull team principal Christian. Piastri impressed immediately, winning six races and finishing second in a championship won by Jamie Caroline, a boy who then followed the Gran Turismo path. Want to know who took third place? Logan Sargent, now at Williams, and Oscar’s former go-kart mate (see photo below).

After this brilliant result, Piastri moved on to Renaut’s Eurocup, remaining tied to the Arden team, and incredibly Red Bull, despite being practically at home, did not include him in the junior program. A big blunder, and one that makes you wonder how weird the Horner-Marco duo is acting. Piastri finished eighth in 2018, a few points ahead of his compatriot Alex Peroni, another boy who flew from Australia to Europe in pursuit of his F1 dream but was less fortunate than Oscar. While the fourth concluded that Sargeant is often repeated in our competitive life.

At the end of 2018 Piastri, again left out by Marco and Horner, left Arden to join the French team R-Ace, who had just won the Renault Eurocup alongside Max Feutrell, who had not been on the motorsport radar for a couple of years. In his second time in the series and with a clearly more competitive team than Arden, the Aussie started an exciting season living on the wire against Victor Martins (now in F2). Everything was decided in the last race in Abu Dhabi, and it was Piastri who came out on top, becoming Renault Eurocup champion with seven wins and five poles. At that time, there was a rule according to which the one who won this category immediately entered the Renault Academy. This was the case with Piastri, who also received a specific financial contribution.

“The Oscar came to me at the end of 2019,” she says. Rene Rosen, Team Principal of Prema, “because he was going to drive for us in F3. We talked and I was struck by his determination and very calm attitude to the matter. Joining Prema represents a turning point in Piastri’s career. It is curious that it was the Italian team that allowed Oscar to finally “explode”. Great-great-grandfather would be very proud of this.

“That 2020 was a very difficult year from an organizational point of view,” Rozin continues, “because of Covid. The F3 championship was over in a short period of time, there was constant pressure, but here Piastri’s strength was shown. Always thoughtful, calm, calm, able to treat people with kindness, never fails, especially when that season he faced a considerable number of problems on his car, electronic in nature, which compromised his qualifications. And I remember how they said that Oscar was not strong in qualifying, which is absolutely not true, because DRS did not work for him, or rather, he only reacted from time to time. And he proved he was fast in F2 qualifying.”

In what Covid made dramatic in 2020, Piastri raced race after race with his teammate: guess who? Sargeant, and the third Prema driver was Frederic Vesti. The title was decided in the very last race at Mugello, and Piastri was awarded, and Sargeant, it must be said, was extremely unlucky in this case, so much so that Theo Purscher stole second place from him.

Looking forward to 2020 Jam Sports Management, or Mark Webber, who oversaw an agreement with Prema concerning Oscar’s career in parallel with the Alpine Academy. After the success in F3, 2021 saw the transition to F2 again, again with Prema. Teammate Robert Schwartzman of the Ferrari Drivers’ Academy, second year in the championship, big favourite. But Piastri gave him a lot of trouble and beat him without any “ifs” and “buts”, and also put Guan Yu Zhou, Deng Tiktum and other good riders in line.

“Oscar hasn’t changed a bit since winning F3” Rosin explains, “always calm, serene. His method was simple, he tried to understand the engineers’ explanations and then put the advice into practice perfectly. Respectful to everyone, he made himself well liked. Relations with him and his family continue to this day. The father was never aggressive, always in his place and loves us, always remembering that we played a decisive role in his son’s career. He also invited us to Melbourne for his 50th birthday.” Rosin then recalls some of the details of that 2021 Formula 2 year: “Oscar won four poles in a row and I still remember the times set in Silverstone’s second sector. Unlikely, but he did them… These pole positions proved that he can be very fast on one lap.”

Also in 2021, in December, Piastri did his first collective F1 test with Alpine in Abu Dhabi, while with the Enstone team he drove several kilometers in a single seater from previous years. So Piastri showed up on the cusp of F1 with three championships in a row in his pocket: Eurocup Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2, but Alpine was incredibly lacking in this to bring him to F1 and put him on the bench. A season in the Formula 1 paddock with briefings from officials Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

A year ago, Webber was waiting for confirmation from Alpine that a move to F1 World Championship drivers would happen in 2023. But team leaders Laurent Rossi (general manager) and Otmar Szafnauer (team principal) hesitated to confirm Alonso and Ocon. Webber, a man of insight, of course, could not accept the fact that his client remained in place for another year, and resigned himself to an unbridled trial, which for some time forced him Zach Brown from McLaren. It all happened in the early days of August 2022: Alonso betrayed Alpine by signing with Aston Martin without even informing Schaffnauer, and then the team revealed without contacting Webber and without signing that Piastri would be Ocon’s teammate in 2023. .

But Piastri has already signed a contract with McLaren. Sensational own goal from Alpine. Renault president Luca De Meo was outraged not that his men were asleep, but that Webber and Piastri turned around. Then we saw how it ended in recent days at Alpine: CEO Rossi (whom Alain Prost considers incompetent) was fired, along with Schaffnauer, designer Pat Fry and sporting director Alan Permain. The whole weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix is ​​a very unusual move. In hindsight, given Alpine’s uncompetitive single-seater and McLaren’s leap forward, Piastri’s move to Brown’s home was more than perfect.

Even with a year off, Piastri, once he had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a fast reliable car, he immediately knew how to prove himself at the level of his more experienced teammate Lando Norris. In the third quarter in Jeddah, Montmelo and Montreal, the result was Piastri with an adequately developed McLaren in qualifying. third at Silverstone, fourth in Budapest and fifth in Spa, and in the race he was fourth in Great Britain and fifth in Hungary, and in Belgium on the first turn after the start he was hit by Carlos Sainz, who cut the track from left to right as if the others did not exist. Piastri only confirms all the good that has been shown in the lower leagues.

And what’s impressive is that, despite a year without a run behind the wheel of an F1 single-seater, he’s already at the level, if not above, of Norris, rightly regarded as a great talent. Where will Piastri arrive? Only time will tell, and in the meantime, Australia is already towering over its actions, but wondering if they will become Webber, Ricciardo, winners yes, but not world champions, or one day they will be able to bring the world home, like Jack Brabham and Alan Jones did?

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