McLaren not ‘too scared’ about Oscar Piastri

Oscar Piastri has switched from being Alpine's reserve driver to racing for McLaren in 2023, after replacing Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella believes rookie driver Oscar Piastri has “enough talent” to learn from the “references” laid out by team-mate Lando Norris, to get an understanding of the team’s 2023 challenger.

Norris will certainly be the Woking-based team’s number one driver for at least the start of the upcoming season, with Piastri’s initial task being to settle into the championship.

Stella believes Norris will be the team’s “reference” this season as well as Piastri’s, with the British driver set to lay a foundation for the 2021 Formula 2 World Champion to learn from.

“I think the important point is to have continuity with Lando, he keeps the kind of reference,” said Stella.

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“And it’s a reference that we know very well, because we have gone through the development of Lando together with him.

“And there has certainly been a development from a technical point of view, from a driving point of view, race craft point of view. So I think we know this very well.

“It will become a frame of reference for Oscar as well. And this is in terms of not only Oscar’s performance himself, but also understanding the car.”

The team will likely rely heavily on Norris at the start of the season in order to gather data to develop their car; however, Piastri’s data will also be useful for the British side even if he can’t offer a “clear reference” of the car’s potential initially.

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“We will have a new car, we want to improve some of the things, and drivers are certainly important in relation to that, even though F1, unlike some other sports, relies a lot on numbers, which means we are lucky, as people dealing with that,” Stella added.

“I think if it was a motorbike it would be more difficult to understand what is the role of the rider here? What is the role of the bike?

“But in F1, you pretty much get a very good idea from the numbers, what your competitiveness is. With the drivers, you deal with subtleties, the final percentage of your performance, so I wouldn’t be too scared.

“If you give me good numbers, I will take it, even if we don’t have very clear references from the drivers.”

In regard to their rookie driver specifically – who has replaced Daniel Ricciardo – Stella has explained that Piastri’s rookie season will be just as much of an “independent journey” as it will a year of exploration with the team.

McLaren’s new boss is confident that Piastri has what it takes to get up to speed quickly and isn’t “concerned” by his lack of experience.

“The journey we want to take with Oscar is also an independent journey,” Stella stressed.

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“He’s certainly very talented. And we want him to use his references, references from the car, references even from what we learned with Daniel and so on.

“But we are quite adamant that he will have enough talent, process, intelligence to kind of find his own way, taking advantage of these references.

“So I’m not very concerned at all that we may lose this kind of experience in terms of comparison.”