Oscar Piastri has expressed his gratitude towards Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo to helping him avoid some of the madness that surrounds his home grand prix in Australia.
As a Melburnian who grew up just 15 minutes from Albert Park, and who has conceded to playing Aussie Rules and cricket on ovals where the F1 paddock is now sited, this weekend's event is naturally “very, very special” for the 21-year-old.
At least in the build-up to the event, Piastri has been able to draw on the experiences of manager Webber, whilst his McLaren team also knows all about what it is like for an Australian on home soil given Ricciardo raced at the venue last year.
Asked by Speedcafe as to how he was managing himself and his energy ahead of the weekend, Piastri said: “Yeah, it's been reasonably busy.
“We've been managing it very well. Obviously, having Mark in my corner is very useful because he's been in my shoes plenty of times here in Melbourne.
“Obviously, the team has experience with Daniel as well, so we've been very organised with those kinds of things.
“Of course, I came out here a little bit early so I could firstly get used to the jetlag, but also see some friends and family, which was nice.
“The rest has been very well managed. It's not been too crazy, allowing me for the rest of the weekend to fully focus on driving, which is nice.”
Piastri recalls grid kid experience
Remarkably, the grand prix will be Piastri's first car race in Australia after only previously competing in karts.
It is also only his third visit to Albert Park, with his second a year ago when he was reserve driver with Alpine.
As to his first, back in 2015, recalling a humourous story, Piastri said: “I was a grid kid for Dani Kvyat (then with Red Bull).
“I was holding Dani Kvyat's (Russian) flag but he broke down on the lap to the grid so I never actually got to see him.
“It will be pretty special to have someone holding my flag this time – and hopefully I have a better one.”
Piastri confident boosted
Piastri is at least looking to build on his two very different experiences so far in F1.
On his debut in Bahrain, his race lasted just 13 laps due to a technical issue with his MCL60.
A fortnight later at the second round in Saudi Arabia, Piastri started a superb eighth on the grid, only to damage the front wing of his car in a minor collision with Alpine's Pierre Gasly, forcing him to pit at the end of the opening lap.
There was an added consequence in that McLaren team-mate Lando Norris ran over the debris from Piastri's car, also requiring the British driver to pit for a new front wing of his own at the end of lap two.
Addressing the lessons of what he has learned so far and what can be expected this weekend, he added: “Qualifying (in Saudi Arabia) especially gave me a lot of confidence, in the way that we're working is the right way.
“I didn't really change that much from Bahrain but the result in qualifying was much different, obviously getting into Q3.
“It was a nice confidence boost, and Sunday, obviously, nice to see the end at least.
“The first lap, I probably could have done a few things differently and maybe kept myself out of trouble a bit better.
“But I think the rest of the race, it was nice to get a race distance under my belt, at least, and definitely some learning and getting rid of some of the rust still.”
“Here should be more like Saudi, I hope. The Tarmac is quite similar, and the layout is more similar to Saudi compared to Bahrain, so hopefully, that is good for us.
“In Saudi, we showed we can get into Q3 and fight for the back end of the points on our good days.
“So hopefully, we can just have a clean race – and my front wing doesn't wipe out Lando this time – and we'll see what we can do.”