1980 Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones believes that rookie Oscar Piastri can become Australia’s first F1 Champion since him, with the McLaren driver having won in every category “he has ever put his bum in”.
There is absolutely no doubt that Piastri is a freakishly talented driver, with the 21-year-old being part of an exclusive club of drivers to have won the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in back-to-back seasons.
Piastri achieved the incredibly rare feat in 2020 and 2021, before spending last season on the bench at Alpine, where a hearing by the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board midway through the year allowed him to announce his move to Woking.
Throughout his junior career he was tipped as a future champion, with him being the sort of driver that only appears “every now and again”.
“I think he can go on to be world champion,” Jones told the Herald Sun.
“Every now and again someone comes along that has got an enormous amount of talent and I reckon he is one of those sorts of people.”
Before joining F3 in 2020, Piastri actually won the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019, meaning he claimed three consecutive titles in three completely different championships.
Very few drivers are capable of doing that, highlighting that he “has certainly got the ability” to achieve greatness.
“Everything he has ever put his bum in, he has won and there are not too many people that can say that,” he said.
“He has certainly got the ability to go on and be a world champion.”
Of course, life at McLaren hasn’t started brilliantly for the Aussie, who is currently preparing for his home Grand Prix which takes place this coming weekend.
He retired early in the race in Bahrain due to a technical fault and was then pushed to the back of the field in Saudi Arabia following front wing damage; however, he did become the first McLaren driver to reach Q3 this season.
Jones recognises that Piastri’s season hasn’t started as planned but that it has to be remembered he sat on the bench last season, meaning he has a “steep learning curve”.
“He has had a little bit of bad luck, none of which was his doing,” Jones said.
“But he has certainly shown the sort of performances that we expected that he would, particularly the last one [the Saudi Arabia GP], I thought he drove particularly well.
“He hasn’t driven anything for 12 months, so to come in after a 12 month lay-off and then go to Formula 1 and go to circuits he has never been to before, it’s a bit of a steep learning curve for him.”