Oscar Piastri was heavily sought after during last year’s summer break, as McLaren and Alpine battled to secure his services. With the 2023 season underway, Zak Brown believes signing the Australian was worth the effort.
McLaren decided to sign Oscar Piastri around July last season, unsatisfied with Daniel Ricciardo’s performances and eager to acquire one of the most highly-rated prospects in F1.
Piastri’s junior career is second to none, claiming the Formula 3 and Formula 2 Championships as a rookie – making him hot property going into 2022.
However, after spending last year on the sidelines, the 22-year-old was unhappy with Alpine’s failure to offer him an F1 seat and protect his future.
The French outfit essentially used Piastri as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Fernando Alonso, intending to extend the World Champion’s contract and find another alternative for their young driver.
Unfortunately for Alpine, Piastri and his agent Mark Webber took their future into their own hands – agreeing to a contract with McLaren for 2023 and guaranteeing his future.
Alpine’s quite desperate attempt to “announce” that the F2 Champion had been “promoted” put a significant and needless strain on the build-up to his debut season.
Fast-forward to this year and Zak Brown is full of praise for the papaya squad’s latest arrival:
“Yeah, we’re very impressed with him. He’s very focused, as I mentioned earlier.
“He’s not really made certainly not any big mistakes. Typical exploring the limits, so the odd lock of a wheel here and there, but yeah.
“He’s never been to Miami. He’s not been to all these races, so early indications are we’ve got a future world champion on our hands.
“We just have to work to give him a faster car now.”
Considering the struggles 8-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo faced at McLaren, the performances of Oscar Piastri have been quite impressive.
A Q3 appearance in Jeddah – just his second F1 race weekend – was a reminder of the talent that made the youngster so highly rated on the road to the pinnacle of motorsports.
Points in Australia – albeit via several retirements – and a very strong showing in Baku are all encouraging signs of his progression and integration into the team.
It is probably a shame that the phrase “future World Champion” is so often used to compliment young drivers, given that less dramatic statements can avoid burdening drivers with such tags.
Regardless, McLaren’s struggles with performance (though still frustrating) will have less of an impact on a rookie like Piastri, who is hardly in a position to demand race-winning machinery.
As the Australian puts in solid drives and looks to earn more experience, he id adjusting quite nicely to the current climate at Woking.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang