Aussie F1 gun Oscar Piastri hopes to be challenging for world titles for ‘the next 10 years’ – and he has turned to the mentor of AFL superstar Dustin Martin to help him do so.
As Piastri prepares to drive in his first-ever home race at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the 21-year-old has outlined just how special it is to compete in his home town for the first time since he was racing go-karts at 15.
The McLaren star grew up just 15 minutes away from the iconic Albert Park track, and played cricket and Aussie Rules as well as being obsessed with everything related to cars.
And despite leaving for the UK to pursue his driving career aged just 15, he still holds Australia close to his heart – which includes being involved with Martin’s renowned mindfulness coach, Emma Murray.
She had such an effect on the three-time Norm Smith Medallist and premiership winner that Martin thanked her in his 2017 Brownlow speech.
Oscar Piastri is preparing to race in his first-ever home grand prix, and the prodigious young talent has declared he wants to ‘challenge for world titles for the next 10 years’
Dustin Martin credited renowned mindfulness coach Emma Murray in his 2017 Brownlow speech – and Piastri has also reaped the rewards of working with the mentor
And she’s been right behind Piastri, as well as other top athletes like Scott McLaughlin (Indycars), Cate Campbell (swimming), Will Pucovski (cricket) and Morgan Mitchell (athletics).
‘If I can fight for world championships for the next 10 years of my life that would be great,’ he told the Herald Sun ahead of the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
‘But for most people they are lucky to even get once chance – and I want to make sure that I’m ready when that chance hopefully comes one day.’
For her part, Murray has previously said that while Piastri was skeptical about mindfulness tools to start with, he quickly realised improving himself between the ears is vital to his career.
‘I was speaking with Oscar Piastri, the F2 driver recently. He told me he didn’t really believe it to begin with, but when he found himself in a pressure moment, he would really cling onto those tools,’ Murray told the Herald Sun in 2021.
She also lauded the maturity and composure of her young charge as he became the first driver to ever win three consecutive F1 feeder championships.
Piastri worked with Murray when he was rising through the racing ranks in Europe, and her skills had an immediate effect
Emma Murray (pictured with Dustin Martin after Richmond’s grand final win in 2021) has said how impressed she is with Piastri’s focus and presence of mind as a youngster
Piastri became the first driver to win three consecutive F1 feeder competitions when he took out the F2 title with Alpine in 2021
‘Takes incredible focus and presence to take out the win of the first race of an interrupted season. Not bad for a young rookie,’ she said of an F3 race win in 2020
That came a year after she lauded him for his Formula Renault Championship win, when she said Piastri dealt with ‘the most extreme pressure a young driver could possibly face’.
It’s clear the softly spoken Piastri is a deep thinker about racing. He says it’s a constant battle to control his desire to get better and better.
‘Throughout my junior career, I’ve always I guess been my harshest critic – I think a lot of drivers, especially at this level, are their harshest critic,’ he told Speedcafe this week.
‘I will know whether I feel good about what I’ve done or not and of course I’ll be trying my best every time.
‘There’s going to be an element of not being too harsh on myself whilst I’m learning but at the same time, I want to make sure if I do make these mistakes that I make them once and learn from them.’
After such incredible success as a junior in Europe, you might be able to take the boy out of Australia – but you can never take the Australia out of the boy.
Piastri is preparing to race in his first race Down Under since he was 15 when he drives for McLaren in the Australian GP on Sunday
Piastri revealed he still misses Aussie icons like meat pies, Tim Tams and Big M chocolate milk, and despite earning a reported $750,000 in his debut F1 season he’s content to live in a modest apartment with a framed photo of him and his childhood hero Ricky Ponting.
As he prepares to finally race in Australia for the first time in seven years, Piastri is just keen to soak it all up and put on a show for his home fans – though the unreliability of his McLaren will make that difficult.
‘It will be nice to have the home support,’ he said.
‘That will spur me through the weekend. In terms of the track, if anything it’s a disadvantage because I’ve never raced here before, so it will be a challenge – but home support will be great.’
Practice begins on Friday, with qualifying scheduled for 4pm on Saturday. The race itself will begin at 3pm on Sunday.