Stella: Piastri “is making all this look simple” in his rookie F1 season

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Photo credit: McLaren Racing

It was around this time last year that we were talking about Oscar Piastri’s seemingly betrayal of Alpine, a team that financed his junior series and brought him close to the top level of motorsport.

Furthermore when Piastri was finally announced as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement at McLaren, many believed the highly rated British driver Lando Norris could ruin his rookie season and Piastri may just be another Formula 1 cast off. Even though Piastri was the 2021 Formula 2 Champion, the step up to F1 was still an unknown. It was suggested that if Norris can dominate and in essence end the race winner Daniel Ricciardo’s career, what would he do to a rookie?

For the opening few races of the season it looked like Piastri should have stuck with Alpine on the basis of car pace. However, with the much spoken about McLaren updates since the Austrian Grand Prix, the Australian has been able to show his worth, even leading the rain soaked sprint race for a few laps in Spa after qualifying on the front row of the grid behind Max Verstappen, and finishing on the podium in an excellent P2.

Piastri also lost what looked like a certain podium at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone due to an untimely safety car allowing others around him a ‘free pit stop’.

McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has spoken recently about the Melbourne-born Piastri and said his performances during the opening races were as good as his headline grabbing ones now, but only now it’s higher up the grid due to the cars increased performance level.

“I think where he is at the moment is part of the gradient that we saw right from the start at testing and the first races,” said Stella.

“I’m not sure Piastri’s progression has actually accelerated. I think he just took benefit from the car being more competitive, therefore there are more opportunities to show what he is capable of,” continued the Italian.

Stella further spoke about how Piastri drove and adapted to the MCL60 that had difficult performance characteristics.

“I think this is in line with kind of what we saw at the start. It wasn’t easy to get into a McLaren car. We’ve been here commenting about the characteristics of this car and how much it created issues for drivers and actually feels uncomfortable.

“So, this was apparent already at the start of the season to us, but less apparent outside just because the car wasn’t very competitive, so I would say he’s consolidating the gradient that we saw at the start.”

Finally Stella concluded by reminiscing about the Spa sprint and felt he was most impressed with how the young Australian handled the mixed conditions so well.

“The interesting point of Oscar is that he’s making all this look simple,” Stella said.

“He’s making it look simple that in these conditions you pit, you lead the race, and you go from inters to dry conditions and you never kind of make a mistake or so. I think this is the most impressive thing that I can witness. And all this is achieved with a pretty unique approach in terms of how calm and considerate he is. And so far, indeed quite impressive.”