In the bustling atmosphere of Doha, Qatar, Oscar Piastri — McLaren‘s rising star — found himself grappling with an unexpected turn of events halfway through an interview to relish his noteworthy performance at the Qatar Grand Prix. At the heart of the plot twist was the surprise announcement of his relegation to the sixth position on the starting grid.
His position was revised on account of traversing beyond the defined track confines during his Q3 lap — a move deemed satisfactory for third quickest. Such a transgression typically warrants instantaneous expunction by the astute watch of the FIA stewards.
The FIA‘s official decision to demote Piastri was confirmed no more than four minutes following the conclusion of the session. However, the young Australian was caught off-guard while being interviewed mid-broadcast by Sky Sports’ Naomi Schiff for the F1‘s global audience.
Piastri, a newbie on the circuits, confessed to Schiff that his lap was far from perfect in his first statement in the interview. The news of his demotion, when conveyed by Schiff, only elicited a chuckle from the McLaren rookie. In his words, “I didn’t know, but this is fun isn’t it? Not knowing who is in the top three.”
Upon absorbing the decision that he’d be commencing the grand prix from the sixth spot, his response was a simple, “Wonderful”.
This wasn’t the only setback for the McLaren team at the event. Lando Norris, Piastri’s teammate, similarly found himself missing out on the coveted front row slot beside Max Verstappen due to analogous infractions.
Norris, in particular, had both his Q3 laps disqualified, as he was observed to have driven all four wheels beyond the white perimeter demarcating Turn 5. It’s worth noting that both laps were initially evaluated as competitive for a second rank on the grid.
The disapproving ripple of these demotions surged through the McLaren camp. Not one to mince his words, a disgruntled Norris voiced his exasperation through the radio channel during his return to the pit-lane, candidly stating, “I’m so s— sometimes!”
The ripple effect of these double demotions was felt strongly in the McLaren camp, particularly as it was anticipated that the teams would demonstrate strong pace on Qatar’s Losail circuit.