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Why did McLaren F1 decide to invest in Oscar Piastri, is this decision a wise one?



McLaren F1 Oscar Piastri

McLaren F1 has chosen to place their trust in the young and talented Australian driver, Oscar Piastri, to make his debut in the upcoming Formula 1 season alongside Lando Norris.

Terminating a contract with a driver before it expires and paying them off is a last resort option for a Formula 1 team and is not made without careful consideration. This is especially true when the team’s alternative is to hire a rookie driver.

When McLaren decided to swap Daniel Ricciardo with Oscar Piastri for the 2023 season, it resulted in financial consequences and caused some dissatisfaction – particularly among Ricciardo’s supporters and Piastri’s former team Alpine.

McLaren agreed to this move despite the costs and backlash because it deemed Oscar Piastri to be the ideal teammate for Lando Norris, even though he lacks F1 experience.

Signing a rookie driver is always a gamble, and in the case of Piastri, it poses a significant risk. McLaren is placing a lot of faith in him to perform well, particularly in light of the high expectations and competitive nature of the team, as well as the pressure of being Lando Norris’s teammate. Additionally, Piastri will have to quickly adapt to the demands of F1 while also shaking off any rust from not racing in 2022, all while having limited pre-season testing, with only 1.5 days in McLaren’s 2023 car.

Why did McLaren F1 decide to invest in Oscar Piastri, is this decision a wise one?

McLaren was well aware of these challenges when it made its decision to sign Piastri.

“It’s still a human sport and there is never a guarantee for anyone, whether it’s the driver or the team members in the garage or on the engineering side, that they will always perform at the top level,” said then-McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl in an interview with The Race in November.


“I am not unrealistic in my thinking.”

Any driver change in F1 can be successful or not depending on the driver involved and the situation. Nothing is certain in F1, and Ricciardo’s time at McLaren serves as a clear reminder of that.

So, the conditions for Piastri’s debut are not easy, but that is typical for F1. When is it ever truly straightforward?

McLaren was willing to move forward with this decision because the potential benefits outweigh the risks and the team believes that Piastri has a high potential for success.

Apart from the fact that neither driver did anything wrong in their conduct last year, there are many reasons to justify choosing Piastri.

Why did McLaren F1 decide to invest in Oscar Piastri, is this decision a wise one?

To begin with, Piastri’s record in junior single-seater races is among the top, having won three significant titles in Formula Renault Eurocup, Formula 3 and Formula 2. He is considered the most promising talent to emerge from the feeder series in the last three seasons, as Seidl stated that he was “clearly very special.” Furthermore, McLaren became increasingly convinced about him as they worked with him more.

“After several meetings with him, getting to know him better as a person and seeing his personality and character, I was convinced that he would fit well within our team,” said Seidl.


“He’s motivated, full of energy and has the appropriate level of self-confidence. At the same time, he’s fully aware of the big challenges that lie ahead of him,”

“When you combine all these qualities with his clear talent on the track, I am confident that McLaren will be a great environment for him to start his F1 career and achieve success,”

“We have proven in the past with Lando that we can develop a rookie driver and therefore, we were willing to take a chance on a rookie,”

Piastri will not be completely unfamiliar with the car when he enters pre-season testing. He had the opportunity to drive McLaren’s 2021 car towards the end of 2022 and there were plans for more private winter tests in the old car. Additionally, he had the chance to drive the 2022 car in the post-season Abu Dhabi test after McLaren cleared his release from Alpine.

This allowed him to familiarize himself with the current generation of McLaren and to work more closely with the team he will be competing with this year, and it also gave him an early opportunity to compare notes with Norris and to evaluate how Piastri handles the demands of the MCL36.

It’s clear that Norris was the superior driver over the two seasons he spent alongside Ricciardo, and his decisive victory in that team-mate battle was a factor in McLaren’s decision to bring in a new driver.

However, since Norris is performing at such a high level and is well-established within the team, Piastri could hardly have a tougher benchmark. Despite this, McLaren sees it as a positive. As new team principal Andrea Stella stated: “Norris will serve as a benchmark for Piastri, not only in terms of performance but also in understanding the car.”


“However, the path we want to take with Piastri is also an individual one. He is certainly very talented and we want him to use his references from the car and even what we learned with Ricciardo and so on.”

“We are confident that he has the talent, ability and intelligence to find his own way and make use of these references.”

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“In order to be successful in F1, Piastri will have to use all of his abilities both on and off the track. He has shown that he is capable of doing this in his previous experience in the junior categories.”

“McLaren recognizes that there are no guarantees of success at the top level, but Piastri seems to possess all the right qualities to become a strong performer.”

McLaren is confident that Oscar Piastri is well-prepared for his Formula 1 debut and has all the necessary traits to become a formidable performer. However, the team is aware that success in the junior categories doesn’t guarantee success at the top level and it will be important to not judge Piastri too quickly or expect too much from him in the beginning.

Why did McLaren F1 decide to invest in Oscar Piastri, is this decision a wise one?

“It’s important not to put too much pressure on Oscar and give him the time to adjust to the F1 level. We should avoid setting expectations and focus on allowing him to gradually adapt to the team and the car.” This is the advice of McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown on the debut of Oscar Piastri in F1.


“Let’s not rush Oscar’s progress, let’s keep a level head, and not set expectations too high,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “We’ll know whether or not he’s successful in the coming year.”

It would be unwise to set specific goals for Piastri and compare him to Norris, as it is important to allow him to adjust and develop gradually without setting high expectations too soon. According to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, success will be determined in time and it is important to keep a level head and not put pressure on the rookie driver.

“We will not set specific goals or expectations for Oscar’s performance, but rather focus on helping him gradually adjust and minimize any highs or lows as he works to establish himself in the F1 world.”

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