Free practice being questioned, sprint race formats changing, hierarchies between riders, tires that don’t get up to temperature and imperfect laps. In the speed of the Formula 1 world, always at the center of a new controversy, normality lies in the hospitality of McLaren where, amidst the thousand difficulties of this 2023, you can smell the scent of sweets prepared by Oscar Piastri’s grandmother
cWho knows how worried Oscar Piastri’s grandmother will be, having such a young grandson in the lions’ cage of Formula 1. Who knows how many times she will have told him, like all grandmothers, to be careful, not to overdo it, and who knows how many times he will slept knowing it far away, sitting inside a box of speeds and pistons. That grandmothers are all the same, on either side of the ocean. And even that of the youngest on the grid, the golden rookie Oscar Piastri, will resemble our grandmothers. Sweet, precious, fragrant. Who explain love by cooking desserts at all hours, setting up tables and filling them with people.
Then Oscar left the family early, like all those kids who grew up quickly, put on karts, single-seaters, left to go far to chase a dream. He moved to Europe to approach the real world of motorsport at the age of just 14, an oceanic feat for an Australian boy, much further away from the rest of his family than friends and colleagues, perhaps just a couple of hours away by flight from the childhood home. He learned to handle it, as did everyone else. Covid kept him away from Australia for a long time and the increasingly pressing commitments to be able to find a place in Formula 1 marked the time for returns: eleven, twelve months before embracing everyone again.
StThese are the true stories of these guys who play everything in a few rounds, in a few precious years, in a few career choices and in the time of a qualification that leaves no room for errors, anyone’s. Piastri who fought to get his place in McLaren, pitting himself against the team that formed him during the years of the Academy, Alpine, having to demonstrate more than many others, some of whom are decidedly less gifted in talent and will. And once he arrived in the top flight he found a team in great difficulty, leaving the scene in the first home qualifying without cutting entry into Q2, ending up relegated to a forgettable position.
Thus – in a world that has to deal with constant controversies, format changes, ownership changes, problems with tires, with single-seaters, between drivers and engineers, journalists and team principals – the space for normality seems to have been completely forgotten. And to restore it on a qualifying Saturday in Melbourne is a trivial gesture, as small as only grandmothers can be. A handwritten note on the McLaren hospitality table: “Made by Oscar’s grandmother”. They are typical Australian sweets for the home pupil in Melbourne, the famous lamingtons, handmade by Piastri’s grandmother for her grandson’s team in a complicated race weekend, as well as throughout the start of the 2023 season.
A gesture that is that of grandmothers all over the world, for a boy who will turn 22 in a few days, who grew up quickly in pursuit of a dream, today thrust into his first year in the top flight, crushed – who knows – by questions about future, the choices made and still to be made, the doubts and the desire to emerge. It’s all great, when you’re in it, all too important to question. All less scary, when seen from the outside. Nothing that can’t be resized with desserts made by a grandmother. Everywhere in the world.