Oscar Piastri has said he had to keep his cool and bide his time to take a maiden F1 win in the Qatar GP Sprint Race.
Piastri started the Sprint from pole position, but faced challenges from Mercedes and Ferrari on the soft tyres right off the line as the McLaren struggled to fire up its medium tyres.
Despite losing the lead of the race at one point to George Russell, the mediums came back into the frame in the closing stages as the high degradation cost the soft tyre runners, and Piastri managed to hold off Max Verstappen to seal the win.
Speaking to media after the race, Piastri said he was relieved to come away with the victory after some nervy moments early on.
“(It was ) a pretty crazy Sprint Race this evening, so I’m happy to come out on top and yeah, also, I think it was really exciting for everyone to watch as well,” he said.
“You know, with the soft guys at the start, I thought I was in a lot of trouble with how much pace they had, but they dropped off just as quickly.”
In a dramatic race which saw several safety car restarts, Piastri was told by his engineers that it would come back to him in the closing laps, as it eventually did, but he admitted that he was on edge as to whether he would be caught by the Red Bull or teammate Lando Norris.
“I think at the start it was a bit difficult to judge with the safety cars that wasn’t helping the medium tyre at all, because it would cool down way too much and then I think it was when Carlos or whoever in the Ferrari was behind me tried to overtake and after that, they dropped back very quickly,” he said.
“And yeah, what would it was like from one lap to the next. George lost a lot of pace.
“So yeah, at that point I knew I was in a good rhythm. It was just (about) how quickly Max was gonna come through, how quickly Lando was going to come through as well.
“So that was stressful at times, but glad we could see it out.”