Analysis: Piastri secures third career fastest lap in Miami

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Despite not scoring any points in Florida, McLaren's Oscar Piastri displayed eye-catching pace both in qualifying and race trim, and also set the quickest lap of the Miami Grand Prix.

For a long time, the Miami Grand Prix had seemed to be going so well for Oscar Piastri, but ultimately the McLaren driver had to console himself with the DHL Fastest Lap. While team-mate Lando Norris was seizing the opportunity presented by a safety car to record a maiden F1 victory, this same mid-race interruption turned Piastri’s day from memorable to forgettable.

Yet it had all started so exceptionally well for Piastri. He read to perfection a chaotic first corner caused by Sergio Perez’s sharply braking Red Bull to overtake Perez, Norris and Carlos Sainz, who were all busy trying to avoid crashing into each other. Piastri’s strong pace in the early stages subsequently enabled him to take second place from Charles Leclerc on lap four.

He then held his own behind race leader Max Verstappen, never allowing the gap to widen to more than three seconds. It was turning out to be another brilliant performance from the young Australian, who, unlike team-mate Norris, had only received half of the first major McLaren update package in Miami.

“The car felt the best it’s been all year,” said Piastri. “A great day for the team, but a disappointing afternoon on my side. I feel like we did a lot of things right in the first half of the race, but a few things didn’t go our way in the second half.” The safety car that was deployed on lap 29, immediately after Piastri’s one and only pit stop, dropped him back to fourth place. At the restart, he had to fend off an aggressive Carlos Sainz.

At one point, Piastri pushed the Spaniard off the track while defending his position. On lap 39, Sainz drifted into turn 17 and ran over the McLaren front wing. As a result, the Aussie had to stop for repairs. On a set of new Mediums, he returned to the track at the back of the field where a points finish was now out of reach. Despite setting a strong pace – including the DHL Fastest Lap of 1:30.634 – he could only claw his way back to P13 before the chequered flag fell. Consequently, his fastest time did not even earn him the customary bonus point.

Williams driver Alexander Albon set the second-quickest lap, having made a late visit to the pits for a set of fresh soft tyres. The Thai driver was only two tenths of a second slower on his two-lap old softs than what Piastri managed on his older mediums.

It was very tight behind the Piastri and Albon with Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc all within half a second from the fastest race lap despite having completed the final stint of the race on much older tyres.

The most remarkable performance came from Leclerc who set his quickest race lap on Lap 56 despite performing his one and only pit stop on Lap 19. Interestingly, Max Verstappen set only the eighth fastest lap.

So far this season, Verstappen and Leclerc have recorded two fastest race laps apiece while Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri have set the benchmark in a single race apiece.