McLaren driver Oscar Piastri believes it was “important to show” Formula 1 rivals that he was not going to be a “pushover” in wheel-to-wheel racing during his rookie season.

Qatar sprint race winner Piastri earned plenty of plaudits throughout his maiden year in F1 and notably did not shy away from battling hard with his more experienced colleagues.  

George Russell copped a five-second penalty for running off track while working to pass Piastri in Austin before Yuki Tsunoda spun in Mexico after attempting to overtake around the outside. 

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, former FIA F2 and F3 champion Piastri says it was particularly important to show rivals he was no pushover despite his top-flight inexperience.

“Not so much,” Piastri replied when asked if he had been underestimated by his fellow drivers. 

“Of course, there's an element of respect and I guess racing people how you want to be raced in some ways. I guess I always try and race people hard, but fair.  

“At the beginning of the season or beginning of your career, it's always important to show it to people that you're not a pushover because it's not a nice thing to have.” 

Oscar Piastri at Las Vegas GP 2023

At the time of the skirmish with Russell, the Mercedes driver alluded to testing the water with Piastri by trying to complete a pass around the outside to see if the McLaren was “being kind” and would give him space.  

Piastri reckoned he had found a happy balance on track by not being overly aggressive – a trait he reckons played a major part in his success on the way up the junior single-seater ladder. 

“I don't think I'm overly harsh or aggressive or anything like that,” the Australian added.  

“In my junior career, a big element of my championships was from staying out of trouble and being consistent.  

“I think there's definitely a good saying in that it's sometimes more important to finish the race and be wrong in a situation than be right about something and be out of the race.  

“So, that's kind of always an element I've tried to keep. But I just tried to race hard but fair.” 

Piastri did not earn a single FIA superlicence penalty point during his rookie campaign.