F1 impressed by ’extraordinary’ rookie Piastri

"I have to say he surprised me at Suzuka"


28 September 2023 - 07:47
F1 impressed by 'extraordinary

As Oscar Piastri soared to his first front-row qualifying effort and podium at Suzuka, the superlatives are now flowing.

"It wasn’t my best race ever," the new McLaren driver and rookie said after being beaten by his own teammate Lando Norris on Sunday. "But it was enough to get a trophy at the end."

It is clear that the 22-year-old is turning heads in the Formula 1 paddock and beyond.

"If I were a team owner, I think I’d get hold of the Australian kid," former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the Daily Mail newspaper. "He’s very good."

Piastri, though, has now committed his future - at least until 2026 and the start of the new engine regulations - to the rapidly improving McLaren team.

He is managed by famous fellow Australian Mark Webber.

"I only knew I wasn’t good enough to win championships when I met Oscar," Webber, the 47-year-old former Red Bull driver, told f1-insider.

"Despite all his talent, when it comes to his way of always wanting to get better and never resting on his laurels, he reminds me a lot of Michael Schumacher."

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella, meanwhile, said Piastri is also reminiscent of a young Fernando Alonso.

"I have to say he (Piastri) surprised me at Suzuka, especially on Saturday," Stella, who worked closely with both Schumacher and Alonso, said.

"This is not the first time he has performed well in qualifying, but this time it was at Suzuka, a very technical circuit where it is very difficult to string laps together."

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher commented: "McLaren certainly has the best driver pairing for the future.

"Oscar is a super talent. It’s hard enough to win Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships, but he did them in his first year. That is extraordinary.

"He is now doing the same thing in Formula 1. We are going to hear a lot about him," Michael Schumacher’s younger brother added.

Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost is famous for always pointing out that rookie drivers in Formula 1 need at least three years to get up to speed.

"The performance Piastri is delivering in his first year is therefore all the greater," the Austrian now says.

Dutch GP boss Jan Lammers, who raced in F1, thinks the way Piastri has performed might even inspire Red Bull to make a surprise driver decision for 2024.

"I think Red Bull is preparing to put (Liam) Lawson in the Red Bull," he told NOS. "They are probably inspired by what Oscar Piastri has done at McLaren.

"If a young boy like that can drive like a star, Red Bull has a good reason to think ’Why don’t we just put Lawson next to Max (Verstappen)?’"

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