F1 great’s advice to Piastri for homecoming
Australia’s Formula One driver Oscar Piastri has been warned the home-town hype could exhaust him before arriving at the Melbourne circuit.
Damon Hill, the F1 world champion in 1996, has cautioned Australians to temper their expectations around Piastri at the grand prix in the Victorian capital.
Melbourne-born Piastri will take to the Albert Park circuit in an F1 for the first time on Friday during two practice sessions ahead of Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race.
Hill says the 21-year-old should seek shelter from the home fanfare.
“It can be exhausting,” Hill told AAP.
“The trick is not to exhaust yourself before you get to the race.”
Hill cited his experience as an Englishman feeling heavy pressure when racing at the British grand prix during his esteemed career.
“It was quite overwhelming really, the attention,” he said.
“It’s nice, people cheering for you. But if you don’t deliver it can be quite hard to take.
“I had some great memories of racing at Silverstone in front of my home crowd. “But expectation, that can always be a little bit of a pressure.
“People have to be realistic with Oscar. Most of the race fans know the score.”
That “score” includes a grim outlook for Piastri in his McLaren, which has struggled in the opening two races of the season.
“McLaren have got some issues,” said Hill, who will be Network 10’s expert commentator in Melbourne.
“They’re not looking really where we expected to see them and so that is a big disappointment.
“When you were looking at last season you would say McLaren were a team that were going to be knocking on the door of the top 10.
“So they have got some work to do at the moment.”
Piastri, in his debut F1 season, has finished last (20th) and 15th in the initial two races, while his McLaren teammate Lando Norris has twice placed 17th.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have banked a win each in one-two finishes for their pacesetting team at the season-opener in Bahrain, followed by Saudi Arabia.
“It was all a bit of a shock to the system just quite how much better (Red Bull) were in Bahrain,” Hill said.
“But a different circuit in Saudi Arabia has shone a little bit of light of hope that some people can actually close the gap.
“It’s still very early days in the season. But they’re sitting pretty aren’t they? They can play games … they have got such an advantage.”
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