The ‘insanely talented’ McLaren member powering the next generation of stars

Sam Cooper
Emanuele Pirro and Pato O'Ward

Emanuele Pirro (left) has been praised for the work he does with drivers such as Pato O’Ward.

McLaren driver Bianca Bustamante has praised Emanuele Pirro for the work he does behind-the-scenes with the team’s academy.

Bustamante is the newest addition to the McLaren development programme having joined ahead of this year’s F1 Academy season and has moved to the UK in order to be closer to the team’s HQ and Pirro running the programme.

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Emanuele Pirro is himself a former F1 driver having driven for Benetton and Scuderia Italia but these days his uniform is papaya in his role as director of the McLaren Driver Development programme.

His influence has been highlighted as crucial by Bustamante as she prepares for the first race of the F1 Academy season this weekend.

“A lot of people, I can’t even name all of them,” she told media including when asked who at McLaren has helped her. “There’s a lot of people involved in this, it’s a project and everyone is so hands-on.

“Of course there’s Emanuele Pirro. Insanely talented, smart and one of the most well conversed people I’ve ever spoken to. He just gives so much knowledge, he’s like my sensei.

“He gives me that perspective that you need as a driver, you need to always have perspective, you need to always have a point of view.

“He makes sure that I keep that point of view straight, he keeps me on track really. He is tough on me when he needs to be, he puts the hammer down when he has to and I just needed to learn to accept it.

“He’s an amazing driver so driving wise, he has given me a lot of advice that I need as a rookie.” recommends

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Another figure picked out for praise was former British Touring Car driver Warren Hughes who works as a coach at McLaren.

“There’s also Warren Hughes,” the 19-year-old Filipina said. “He’s an amazing driver. He’s one of the main coaches in McLaren and he’s been tasked to kind of mentor me on track.

“He’s basically with me at all of my testing and all of my races. He was with me in the winter series, at F1 Academy and so he is basically my coach. He’s my mentor. He’s my main ally on track.

“Whenever I’m driving badly he tells me, he makes me aware of it and of course, when we’re driving well, he just pushes me to fine tune all of those techniques.”

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