“We Were Screwed”: Oscar Piastri Highlights Lewis Hamilton Incident That Derailed Las Vegas GP Hopes

Published 11/19/2023, 4:07 AM EST

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Remember the Italian GP this season? Oscar Piastri was running in P8, and Lewis Hamilton was hot on his heels. Having been stuck behind the rookie for the better part of the race, Hamilton made a move in the dying stages. While trying to overtake him, Hamilton turned in on the McLaren, damaging Piastri’s front wing and ruining his race. Hamilton came off unscathed, and Piastri bore the brunt of the collision. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), something very similar happened at the Las Vegas GP.

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After a disappointing qualifying for both Hamilton and Piastri, they could only manage a P11 and P19, respectively. They both intended to make amends on race day, and they seemed like they were. That was until a repeat of Monza happened on the Monza-esque track—Piastri’s race got ruined, while Hamilton benefitted.

A recovery drive ended in disappointment for Oscar Piastri

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What Piastri gathered from qualifying was that McLaren had the pace to compete in the top 10. It was just that an error in tire strategy caught them out during qualifying. Starting in P18, Mclaren opted to put the Aussie on Hard tires to extend his first stint. But less than 20 laps into the race, Hamilton tried to overtake Piastri. Guess how that ended? The seven-time champion made contact with the Aussie, puncturing his front left tire. 

Piastri had no option but to come in right then. In his post-race interview, he said, “I got a puncture with Lewis, so I had to box. It was too early to do a one-stop onto the Medium, so we used the Hard and then just prayed for a Safety Car [toward the end]. That never came.” It came earlier than McLaren wanted when Max Verstappen and George Russell made contact. While cars around Piastri pitted, he made his way to P3. Once racing resumed, he was running in P4 and could’ve finished the race there, but that wasn’t an option.

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Considering drivers have to use two compounds of tires in a race, Piastri had to make the change. Ultimately, he crossed the line in P10. Referencing the abysmal qualifying, he said, “Yesterday made today look a 1000 times better. We were struggling a lot with the tires yesterday. Today, they were our best friend.” He couldn’t help but explain how the collision with Hamilton derailed his strategy. Talking about how the Safety Car McLaren was hoping for never came, Piastri added, “We were kind of screwed from that point. That puncture didn’t hurt us as much as the timing of the Safety Car.”

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As for Lewis Hamilton, he had a puncture as well. After losing places because of it, he recovered to finish in P7. Needless to say, he was pleased with the race.

The Las Vegas GP lived up to Hamilton’s expectations

Hamilton started the race in P10, but contact with Carlos Sainz on the first lap, and trying to avoid spinning cars, dropped the Brit down the order. When Hamilton made contact with Piastri, they were fighting for 10. But after their respective pictures, they dropped places and had to make their way back up again. Surprisingly, the Las Vegas Street Circuit had a lot of overtaking opportunities despite being a street track. Hamilton made full use of it and did the most he could with his W14.

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After the race, he was extremely high-spirited because of all the racing action that took place. He said, “I’m really grateful that the race was so good. I don’t know how it was as a spectacle to watch, but there was so much overtaking. It was like Baku but better. I really wasn’t expecting the track to be so great. But with more and more laps, I just really loved racing. Lots of overtaking opportunities. And all those who were so negative about the weekend, saying it was about the show, I think Vegas proved them wrong.”

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Watch This Story: How Oscar Piastri Has Made a Scintillating Rise to the Pinnacle of Motorsport

What did you think about the Las Vegas GP? Could Oscar Piastri have finished higher had Lewis Hamilton not made contact with him?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

757Articles

One take at a time

"I don't know who I would've been if I didn't love sports as much as I do." I'm Aditi, and I'm a senior F1 Writer at EssentiallySports. For F1 and me, it was love at first sight back in 2020.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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