It was only a matter of time before Oscar Piastri joined the ranks of drivers who have conquered a Formula 1 podium. And it didn’t take long for him to reach the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka when he also adopted the new upgrades previously introduced by McLaren in Singapore and was given an extra boost from the new multi-contract until 2026. His extensive list of achievements in his relatively short career was pointing towards all of this.
Oscar’s early career
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, his karting career started relatively late at 10 years old before making the bold move to Europe in 2016. Settling in the United Kingdom, he entered the single-seater realm in the Formula 4 UAE Championship at just 15, securing two podiums while racing for Dragon F4.
Transitioning to Formula 3 with Prema Racing in 2020, Piastri faced pandemic-related delays but wasted no time making an impact. He secured his first F3 victory in Austria and maintained consistent points finishes throughout the season, ultimately winning the championship.
In 2021, Piastri moved up to Formula 2 with Prema and displayed his dominance. He claimed his debut F2 victory, leading to a series of podiums and a championship win. He became one of the few drivers to achieve F3 and F2 titles in consecutive years, following the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. His remarkable career trajectory also included recognition from the Renault Sport Academy and an F1 test opportunity.
First rookie on the podium since 2017
Refusing Alpine’s contract for one with McLaren seemed like a really bold move at the beginning of the season but his hopes have been well-placed. Since the summer break their performances have been superbly better. And throughout the Japanese Grand Prix the talented young Australian displayed exceptional driving skills, facing off against formidable competitors like George Russell, ultimately securing the third position on the podium. His achievement makes him the first rookie in six years to claim a podium finish in Formula 1.
Before this with his brilliant performance during qualifying where he went ahead his teammate Lando Norris, he become also the fifth rookie to start from the front row in a Grand Prix.
An all-Aussie record worth noting pertains to the number of Australians who have graced the Formula 1 podium. Prior to Oscar Piastri’s achievement, only five Australians had managed this feat. Among them are notable names like Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently recovering from an injury with an uncertain return to the paddock, and Oscar’s mentor Mark Webber, the former Red Bull Racing driver who partnered with Sebastian Vettel during the early glory years of Red Bull, Jack Brabham, Tim Schenken and Alan Jones.
Fun fact about his number
But perhaps the most iconic record is the one related to his race number. No one had ever stepped onto the podium with the number 81 before him. This number had never been chosen by any other driver in recent history, thus earning him this unique distinction.
The tale of how Oscar Piastri acquired the number 81 isn’t particularly dramatic, but it’s a story worth sharing. When he embarked on his very first race, he needed to select a number for his kart. However, the kart shop he visited had only number ones available at the time, and being number one wasn’t a viable option for obvious reasons.
As a result, he initially settled on being number 11 for his first few races. Then, as he entered what would turn out to be the Victorian state titles, it turned out that another racer had already claimed the number 11. The inspiration for his next move remains a bit of a mystery, but Oscar opted to modify his number by swapping out the first “1” for an “8.” And from that point forward, he became synonymous with the number 81, a choice that has stayed with him throughout his racing journey.
Last but not least at his very young age of 22 years old he is the first driver of the new millennium to have secured a Formula 1 podium.
Oscar and Mark Webber
Mark Webber has played a pivotal role in Oscar Piastri’s career from its inception. As Piastri’s manager and mentor, Webber has provided invaluable guidance, drawing from his own extensive Formula 1 experience. He has not only offered strategic insights and advice on navigating the complexities of the sport but has also been a source of inspiration for the young Australian driver.
In preparation of the Japanese weekend, Oscar Piastri, opened up about the invaluable advice he received from him. Drawing from Webber’s wealth of experience and multiple podium finishes at Suzuka, Piastri highlighted the significance of strengthening his neck muscles to tackle the demanding Sector 1 of the Suzuka circuit. This sector, renowned for its high-speed corners and intricate layout, subjects drivers to intense G-forces, underscoring the physical demands placed on Piastri as he seeks to conquer this challenging track.