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Piastri hopeful for strong finish in Abu Dhabi after ‘better than expected’ pace in Las Vegas GP

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: Nineteenth placed qualifier Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren

Oscar Piastri executed a solid drive in the Las Vegas Grand Prix to recover from P18 on the grid to a final finishing position of P10, giving the Australian an added sense of confidence heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

McLaren endured a difficult start to the weekend at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, with the venue seemingly not proving a good match for the MCL60. Piastri and team mate Lando Norris were both eliminated in Q1 of Friday night’s qualifying, leaving them with plenty of work to do on Saturday evening.

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While Norris suffered an early exit from the race following a heavy crash, Piastri enjoyed a strong start and in the latter stages of the event found himself running in P4.

Eventually he was forced to make a pit stop, which dropped him down the order to the final points-paying position of 10th, though he also claimed an additional point by setting the fastest lap of the race.

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Piastri rues ‘getting caught out in qualifying’ after strong race pace in Las Vegas

When asked after the event if he had been hoping for a late Safety Car in order to benefit from a free stop and hold onto fourth place, Piastri admitted: “Yep, definitely! Yeah, we were looking good for a long time, obviously it’s a shame that I knew I had to do an extra stop. Pace was very good, nice to get a bonus point for fastest lap as well.

“Not the easiest of days for a lot of people, I think, [it was a] pretty jumbled race. But I think with everything that happened it was more or less the best we could have done, so yeah, happy with the pace and just a shame that we started so far back and a couple of things didn’t quite go our way."

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Given the troubles that McLaren had faced throughout the opening days of action in Las Vegas, Piastri acknowledged that it was satisfying to bounce back with a good result, with the car’s pace on Saturday proving to be a pleasant surprise.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren looks on from the drivers

Piastri is hopeful that McLaren can have a good finish to the year in Abu Dhabi

“I think we knew we had reasonable pace yesterday,” the rookie driver said. “I think today was arguably a little bit better pace than what we expected. But yeah, it was just a shame yesterday that we kind of got caught out in qualifying and [that] made life a little bit more difficult.

“Nice to know that the car pace is still good in the race, on a circuit like this that we knew wasn’t really going to suit us very well, and yeah, hopefully Abu Dhabi we can finish the year off strong.”

WATCH: Heavy Norris crash brings out early Safety Car during Las Vegas GP

It remains all to play for in the season finale, with McLaren still in a fight with Aston Martin for fourth place of the constructors’ championship.

While the Woking-based squad are currently holding on to the position, their rivals have now cut the gap to just 11 points following a double-points finish for Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso in Las Vegas.

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