• Michael Johnsen

Australia's latest champion


Oscar Piastri - focussed and driven. Credit Getty Images
Oscar Piastri - focussed and driven. Credit Getty Images

Oscar Piastri, the 20-year-old Melburnian now joins an elite group of racing drivers that rise to the very top of their class. With his third world championship in as many years, Renault, Formula 3 and now Formula 2, Oscar is destined for great things in the world of motorsport.


By winning the F2 title, Piastri joins a who’s-who of drivers who have won the F2 title and have gone on to drive in F1, including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell.


Piastri will take the role of Alpine’s F1 reserve driver next year, with an eye to replacing Esteban Ocon or 2005 and 2006 world champion Fernando Alonso, in 2023.


In a terrific article by Michael Lynch, Talent, nerve and lots of cash, Piastri’s enthusiasm for racing fast cars highlighted not only the commitment required to be world champion, it also talks about the passion ignited as a child when his father bought him a remote control car and he was hooked from that point on.


So, what is all the fuss about? What is it that many of us dream of doing yet, as we get older, realise it was only ever a dream? As much as we all hate to admit, every one of us have experienced the harsh reality of the gap between ambition and ability in some form. It could be that we possess great skill yet not nearly enough to be a world champion as a teenager, in a highly competitive global sport.


It is possible – just saying – that I’ve been in cars and on motorbikes at speeds that would blow the radar from the hands of the officer holding it, if it were on a public road. I’ve taken calculated risks, felt the adrenalin rush of racing others and thought I was better than I am yet, at no point was I spotted by a talent scout for the sponsorship, glory, and glamour that people associate with motorsport. I can’t understand why.


I thought I would go for a few laps in a Formula Ford recently and find out why I wasn’t head hunted into racing fast cars and why others like Oscar Piastri, Daniel Riccardo or Mark Webber are looked upon as something special behind the wheel.


I’ve been on racing tracks before, but this was the first time I was let loose, alone, no one to stop me and experience that feeling of euphoria, adrenalin and that gap between ambition and ability again.


Check out this edited version of a video taken throughout the whole ten laps of fun, dreaming, avoiding a crash with Fabio, and a full speed, top gear 360.


The Formula Ford is a four speed, 1,600cc racing car. Yep, it’s a real racing car. It is uncomfortable. There are no creature comforts, no room to stretch out, no seats other than a thin piece of metal under your bottom and 50mm of sponge behind your back. All while being only a couple of centimetres off the ground. At 6’2” with a healthy mid-section, I had no room to move.


According to Anglo Racing Academy who owns and races the vehicle, with a good driver, the formula ford is faster around the track than the same driver in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which is as fast as a Holden or Ford V8 supercar.


I don’t know how fast I was going. I do know, it gave me a glimpse into the thrill, along with the dedication, cash and commitment needed, to be a world champion racing car driver.


As a bonus, it reignited the passion for speed and the dream of being the fastest person on the track, while the world is watching and cheering you to victory.


There is no doubt about why people chase the dream, and few make it come true. This makes Oscar Piastri's achievement truly remarkable and will inspire many to follow in his wheel tracks.