Piastri aims to learn as much as possible, Alpine row no longer an issue

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Photo credits: McLaren

Formula 1’s hottest prospect of last season, Oscar Piastri, hasn’t really any set expectations for coming season. Following a year in the wings after quite a dominant Formula 2 championship, his primary focus is on learning and getting up to speed, rather than aiming for a specific result.

“I think in terms of results, there’s not really any set expectations. I think, you know, obviously I’m gonna try and learn as much as I can and then it depends where we are as a as a team. So I think for me, learning as much as I can, obviously getting up to speed as quickly as I can. There’s going to be an element of rust there at the beginning, having not raced for a while now. So trying to get back up to speed there and just putting, you know, the right processes in place to fast track my learning as much as we can and then whatever results come as a result of that is a bonus.”

The Melbourne-born youngster was happy to answer the press ahead of McLaren’s launch on Monday, with the focus of course on his upcoming debut. With the Australian Grand Prix no longer being the season opener, there are two races for Piastri to prepare for his home race. Asked whether this is better than debuting in front of his fellow Ozzies, he replied:

“Yes and no. I think there’s obviously something really special about having your debut race as your home race, so it would have would have been cool, but at the same time, you know, I’ll have two races before Melbourne to hopefully get stuck in, get a bit more settled and get some more experience before we go to Melbourne. So it goes both ways a little bit. I went last year to the Grand Prix in Melbourne as a reserve driver. I’ve got somewhat of an expectation of what to expect, but yeah, it’s definitely gonna be an experience I’ll never forget in Melbourne.”

Being born in the same year as Alonso made his debut in a Minardi, there is something special about being able to battle against the two time World Champion. But at the end of the day, he and Lewis Hamilton are also just two opponents that need to be defeated.

“I think working alongside Fernando for part of last year was an eye opening experience and obviously it was someone that I watched growing up. I think Lewis is also another one. See, I’ve watched his success throughout my junior career. So yeah, it’s gonna be pretty special to go up against guys like that. But you know, I think as a racing driver it’s going to be: once the helmet goes on everyone else is, it’s just another drop. But definitely it’s gonna be pretty cool to race against some of these childhood heroes.”

Photo credits: McLaren

However, before beating anyone else on the grid, you’ll have to beat your teammate. Nonetheless, Piastri doesn’t see Lando Norris as his biggest rival at the moment.

“I think as a teammate, especially in F1, you know, the first, I guess, comparison is your teammate. And because we’re in the same car, so I think that that definitely [is] the comparison there of course. But yeah I don’t really see it. Our relationship’s being good so far, I don’t see why that would, you know, why that would change. So yeah, I think we’ll get along well and try and push the team forward together because that’s ultimately what we what we want to try and do. We want to try and be back to winning races. So that’s the the main aim and obviously there’ll be the comparisons with teammates.”

Piastri also hasn’t consulted Norris on everything that comes along with a Formula 1 debut. He doesn’t see that as an issue as there is a lot of experience within the confines of the McLaren Technology Centre he explains.

“We’ve not spent that much time together, just some of the the marketing activities here at McLaren. But I think between the other people in the team, my engineers and stuff like that there’s a wealth of experience there with rookie drivers and obviously Lando’s come through as a rookie of McLaren. So there’s a lot of people in the team that have shared that journey with him which is encouraging for me.”

Photo credits: McLaren

Piastri’s sudden goodbye from Alpine last summer is now a thing of the past. Asked about whether he has put this saga behind him, he answered:

“I think, yeah, I’m well and truly past that now. I’m focused on starting my career at McLaren and making sure I try and hit the ground running and and get up to speed as quickly as I can.”

He also added that the row with Team Enstone hasn’t added any pressure going into the coming season:

“I think for me, my objectives and sort of goals for myself haven’t changed in any way and I think regardless of how that ended last year there’s probably an outside expectation with the the junior career that I’ve had as well. So I think you know there’s a bit of expectation from a few angles, but I don’t think that that’s the [main issue].”