Ralf Schumacher opens up on Oscar Piastri after challenging Lando Norris

Ralf Schumacher believes Oscar Piastri is a demon in qualifying but needs to improve in the races.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher has revealed that he’s a “big fan” of Oscar Piastri, who he clearly expects to achieve incredible things in the sport.

Following his very public move from Alpine to McLaren for 2023, Piastri had a lot of pressure on him to perform in his rookie season.

However, he never looked like a driver under any form of pressure, as he settled into the Woking-based team and into F1 with complete ease.

Many people were stunned at just how quickly he was able to lap at a similar pace to Lando Norris in qualifying, with Schumacher admitting that Piastri “never makes a mistake” over one-lap.

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Piastri was also exceptional in the Sprint races, with him having finished second in the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint, whilst he astonishingly won the 100km race at the Qatar Grand Prix.

His main weakness in 2023 though, was his race pace, where he tended to be slower than his teammate.

Schumacher recognises that the young Australian struggled to maintain good consistent speed when it came to the races but that he was faultless over a short distance.

“I have to say I’m a big fan of Oscar [Piastri], the only thing is he seems still to be a bit weak in the racing speed,” Schumacher said on the Formula For Success podcast.

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“I think his qualifying performance is amazing, he never makes a mistake, [and] he’s always there, so that’s great.”

Alongside his two Sprint rostrums, Piastri also finished on the podium in two races back-to-back, in Japan and Qatar.

McLaren have seen Piastri’s potential and have locked him into a deal which doesn’t expire until the end of 2026, meaning he will enter the new power unit regulations with the British team.

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Piastri is undoubtedly a driver who will fight for the Drivers’ Championship in the future; McLaren want to ensure that he does so in their car.

With the papaya side likely to have an even better car in the upcoming season, Piastri’s big target should be to finish amongst the top five on a more regular basis.

Given that Norris does this already, Piastri will likely be battling with his teammate in 2024 if he has improved his race pace over the off-season.