Oscar Piastri blamed for Lando Norris’ poor start to 2023

Oscar Piastri replaced Daniel Ricciardo as Lando Norris' team-mate at McLaren for the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor has questioned why McLaren signed rookie Oscar Piastri and broke-up Lando Norris’ “very smooth” partnership with Daniel Ricciardo, with Windsor pondering whether the team see Piastri as their future.

Norris was McLaren’s star driver whilst accompanied by Ricciardo, with the Briton having delivered exceptional performances time and time again.

As a result, he built himself a bit of a reputation for being the best midfield driver, due to the fact that he more often than not finished seventh.

With Ricciardo having performed so poorly, though, the Woking-based team terminated his contract and signed Piastri, who is regarded by many as a future World Champion.

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Piastri is one of very few drivers to have claimed the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in back-to-back seasons, highlighting his unbelievable talent.

McLaren certainly went out of their way to sign the Aussie from Alpine, who did all they could to try and retain the 21-year-old.

Putting Piastri alongside Norris is an interesting tactic by McLaren, given that it’s the first time for Norris where he isn’t the younger driver.

Norris is now the experienced leader of the team, rather than the young star trying to beat a more experienced team-mate.

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That in itself is the role Piastri now has, with his Q3 appearance in Saudi Arabia having certainly proved that he is “super quick”.

With this in mind, Windsor has questioned whether McLaren see Piastri as their future instead of Norris, with the 70-year-old having added that “there’s a slight change of urgency” in the Briton’s driving.

“I speculated over the winter that I didn’t think that Piastri’s arrival at McLaren was going to be necessarily the best thing for Lando Norris, only because Lando now is going to have to be looking alongside him rather than in his mirrors – which is what he was doing with Daniel Ricciardo,” Windsor said on his YouTube channel.

“And that gave him the presence to be Lando Norris and develop as the driver he wanted to be with the team moulding around him.

“But the minute you put in somebody like Piastri who’s really quick – short corners, very nice touch – you can almost see the effect now in the car, there’s a slight change in the urgency in Lando Norris’s driving.

“And he made a mistake that comes under the heading of, in my view, a lack of concentration in Q1.

“He was on a reasonable lap but he knew by the time that he got to the last sector that he was going to be no better than this incredibly quick new team-mate that he’s got and, I don’t know whether he was thinking about that or thinking about what he was going to do about getting another lap in or coming in and changing the car.

“But he did what Ayrton did at Monaco all those years ago when he hit the apex of the last corner and effectively broke the steering, and that was it for qualifying.

“Not the sort of thing you’d expect of Lando Norris, not the sort of thing we’ve ever seen from Lando Norris.

“I put that down to the effect of Oscar Piastri alongside a driver like Lando.

“I think Lando’s concentration now needs to be focused in a different way and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

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“I still question why McLaren, having got that Lando Norris/Daniel Ricciardo [partnership] – very smooth, very well operating team – have put this young guy who’s super quick alongside Lando.

“Maybe they think Lando’s not quick enough and the future’s Oscar Piastri?

“That’s hard to believe because Zak [Brown, McLaren chief executive] is such a Lando Norris guy – but he’s obviously an Oscar Piastri guy as well.”