McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has revealed the team’s plans for rookie driver Oscar Piastri this upcoming season, with the American acutely aware that the 2021 F2 World Champion will be alongside the “very difficult” to beat Lando Norris.
Piastri is dubbed by many as a future World Champion, with the Australian having accomplished the incredibly rare feat of winning the F3 and F2 titles in back-to-back seasons.
His 2022 campaign was very much wasted as Alpine’s reserve driver, with the 21-year-old having never been given the chance to drive the French team’s 2022 challenger.
He did complete the post-season young drivers test for McLaren at Abu Dhabi, meaning he’s not entering 2023 as a complete rookie.
Brown rates Piastri’s talent as “pretty rare” but is more concerned about the Australian driver settling into the team in 2023, meaning he won’t be under “too much pressure” during his rookie campaign.
“I think Oscar, he’s a very focused, mature, fast individual from everything that we’ve seen so far,” Brown told Speedcafe.
“His track record is much like Lando’s in that he’s kind of won everything in his first year along the way, which is pretty rare, which means you have got to be pretty, pretty special.
“So we just need to integrate them into the team, like we did with Lando, and hope that he finds his feet.
“He will have plenty of support from us. We want to make sure there’s not too much pressure on him coming into a big team against a very difficult, fast team-mate.
“But I have no doubt Oscar’s going to settle in nicely and be a strong teammate for Lando.”
Piastri is, of course, replacing fellow Australian and fan favourite Daniel Ricciardo, something which comes with its own pressure.
Ricciardo and Norris also had an incredibly close relationship which saw them always together off-circuit, with the signing of Piastri having come in between that.
Despite not knowing the British driver, the young Aussie is eager to get to know the Quadrant founder, both “personally and professionally”.
“I don’t know Lando that well,” Piastri said.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times very briefly and we’ve got a few mutual friends in common. But yes, I’m looking forward to getting to know him, both personally and professionally.
“I think our junior careers have been quite similar. He’s obviously proven as well in F1 that he’s a very capable driver and a strong driver as well.
“I’m looking forward to being able to show what I have, but also there’s undoubtedly going to be things to learn along the way, and I think Lando’s a very strong team-mate to be able to learn from. I think it’ll be a good working relationship.”