Oscar Piastri saga: McLaren boss fires new shot at Otmar Szafnauer’s character

Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2023 as McLaren look to find a partner capable of matching Lando Norris.

Alpine had created a roadmap for Oscar Piastri to become a roaring success with the team, involving a loan to Williams before taking Fernando Alonso’s seat in the future.

Alonso’s shock departure to Aston Martin forced the team to skip the Williams loan and appoint Piastri as Esteban Ocon’s partner for 2023, until the Australian intervened.

Piastri was forced to release a statement earlier this year, claiming that he was under no contractual obligation to drive for Alpine in 2023 despite their announcement that he would be a part of their line up for next year.

As it turns out, the Australian had already signed a contract with McLaren for 2023, and after a long legal debate the 21-year-old was given permission to drive for McLaren, as his Alpine contract did not force him to remain with the team.

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Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer has recently questioned Piastri’s integrity and claimed that his team are better off with Pierre Gasly, who he believes is the faster of the two drivers.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has now hit back at Szafnauer’s criticisms of his new driver, suggesting that Piastri is a star in the making.

“I’ve been very impressed with how he conducted himself over the summer,” said Brown in response to Szafnauer’s comments.

“I thought Otmar’s comments towards Oscar were very unfair and not accurate. Especially having sat through the CRB and now I know exactly what happened.

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“I thought the way Otmar called his integrity into question was very inaccurate and unfair, especially coming from Otmar.

“And [Piastri] was very mature through the whole process. For a 21-year-old having all that pressure and spotlight, he was not frazzled, kept his head down.

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“We’ve had him in our car. He did an excellent job and I think he’s going to be a future star.”

Piastri definitely angered the Alpine hierarchy with his refusal to accept a 2023 race seat, which was to McLaren’s gain as they looked to replace the below par Daniel Ricciardo with some young potential.

Lando Norris has been head and shoulders above his teammate over the last two seasons, so McLaren will hope that their new driver will be able to match the high standards being set by the Brit.