After a long and drawn-out legal battle with Alpine, it was deemed that Oscar Piastri was under no obligation to race for the French team in 2023, despite their announcement of the Australian as Esteban Ocon’s 2023 partner.
Piastri will instead now race for McLaren, after the team decided to replace the underperforming Daniel Ricciardo after two years of trying to make things work with the 33-year-old.
The eight-time race winner never quite got to grips with McLaren’s cars during his two-year spell, but Head of Race Operations Andrea Stella has said that he is not concerned about Piastri suffering a similar fate to his countryman.
“In F1 you get a very good idea what your competitiveness is from the numbers, and with the drivers you deal with subtleties – the final percentage of your performance,” he explained.
“If you give me good numbers, I would take it even if we don’t have very clear references from the drivers.
“Oscar is on an independent journey, we want him to use what we learned with Daniel, but we are quite adamant that he will have enough talent, process and intelligence to kind of find his own way.”
Piastri has been touted as a star of the future after winning the F3 championship in 2019 and then the F2 championship the year after, winning both titles at the first attempt.
This leaves McLaren with two very talented young drivers in their ranks, and Stella has suggested that after seeing Lando Norris come through the team as a rookie, he provides a perfect reference point for Piastri’s development.
“I think the important point is to have continuity with Lando, he keeps the reference,” claimed Stella.
“It’s a reference that we know very well, even because we have gone though the development of Lando together with him.
“It will become a frame of reference for Oscar as well as this not only for his performance, but also understanding the car.”
After initially struggling to capitalise on the major changes in the F1 regulations in the 2022 season, McLaren will be looking to both Norris and Piastri to offer their insight on the car as the team look to develop into regular podium contenders.
Piastri did not race in 2022, having been forced to wait a year for his F1 debut after winning the F2 championship, so similar to Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, the rookies on the 2023 grid might have some rustiness to shake off before the season opener in Bahrain.