It’s been two months since Oscar Piastri staked a claim as Australia’s potential next Formula 1 driver after securing the FIA Formula 3 Championship at September’s season finale at Mugello Circuit.
In what was a thrilling end to the dramatic season, Piastri eventually claimed the title over Frenchman Theo Pourchaire and American teammate Logan Sargeant with just four points separating the trio at the conclusion of the final round.
Despite having led for a majority of the nine-round season, courtesy of two race wins and four podiums, Piastri’s final two rounds of the season almost cost him the title after a retirement and 11th place finish saw Sargeant claim the Championship lead.
However, even after the American retired in the opening stages of the final race, the title fight ended up going down to the final lap as Piastri managed to finish seventh, which was enough for him to come away with the memorable title.
Speaking with Greg Rust for Motorsport Australia, Piastri revealed his headspace leading into that final race, despite the title hanging in the balance.
“It was a cool year. Having that F3 championship next to my name is pretty cool and I am very thankful for people’s support,” Piastri said.
“It was a great season with nine rounds over 11 weekends, so it was very fast and compact and went down to the wire which got my heart racing.
“I had a rough idea of what I needed to do to win the Championship ahead of the finale. I was mainly focusing on Logan as he was starting six positions ahead of me in the final race while Pourchaire was still an outside chance at that point.
“Once the safety car came out in the race, I knew Logan was out which was kind of a relief for me but obviously Pourchaire had a really strong race and ended up getting that podium. I just had to stay on track and I pick up a few people and I knew I could win the title.”
Following on from the title victory, the Renault Driving Academy representative was then invited to take part in a special Formula 1 testing session alongside fellow academy drivers Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou, completing just short of 500 kilometres.
With Piastri certain to run in next year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship, he was thrilled to have had the opportunity to get his first taste of a vehicle he may well be sitting in in the coming years.
“I had about a week off after the Championship for some downtime and then I was straight into training my neck to make sure it didn’t fall off when I ran in the F1 car,” Piastri said.
“I spoke to Mark Webber about what to expect to make sure I was ready and then to Christian, who had driven the F1 car the day before I got my chance.
“I was there on the radio listening to what he was going through and then I asked him questions following the session and he was open and honest with me.
“Once in the car, the most difficult thing was the neck. You can train it for as much as you want but until you get into the car, you never know what to expect. I put in a good amount of training. I won’t say I wasn’t sore after the session, but I think I held on pretty well.
“Plans for next year are Formula 2. I will be on the grid but just sorting out where. It’s all looking positive and there are quite a few good options on the table. I am excited for whatever next year might bring.”
The eight round 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship’s season will begin at the Bahrain International Circuit in March.
Watch the full video below.