Karun Chandhok makes Hamilton and Verstappen claim about Oscar Piastri

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri sprays the champagne after claiming his maiden F1 podium at Suzuka.

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri sprays the champagne after claiming his maiden F1 podium.

While Oscar Piastri’s rookie F1 season did not wow Karun Chandhok overall, he felt the peaks were up there with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as F1 rookies.

Piastri spent a year on the sidelines in 2022, but as his F1 breakthrough arrived with McLaren for F1 2023 there was great intrigue surrounding the Australian rookie who won the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles back-to-back.

And he would impress in his first campaign of F1 action, claiming two podium finishes and sprint victory in Qatar.

Oscar Piastri ‘peaks’ up there with great F1 rookie campaigns

However, Sky F1 pundit Chandhok was only impressed with Piastri in parts, highlighting that overall he finished with fewer than half the points of experienced team-mate Lando Norris, claiming race pace was his “Achilles’ heel”.

Nonetheless, the high moments Chandhok felt were up there with F1’s top stars from their first seasons.

“I think the peaks were very high,” he said on the Sky F1 podcast.

“If you look at that day in Qatar, I think that was my feel-good moment of the season. Watching him win that sprint race was fantastic.

“I thought the qualifying in Suzuka, again really super performance, so was the qualifying in Spa in the wet, he really did a fantastic job.

“But ultimately, when you look at the points at the end of the year, in his comparison against Lando, he’s ended up some way behind. Which is fair enough, as a rookie, I think you wouldn’t expect him to be necessarily an equal of Lando, but he got 97 versus 205 for Lando, so it was less than half the points that Norris got.

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“I think when you still look at the race pace, that has been his Achilles’ heel.

“There’s been a lot of weekend’s where, including last race in Abu Dhabi or races like Brazil, Austin, there were a lot of races where he qualified very well, but he didn’t quite have the race pace to hold on to it, whereas I thought Norris did a fantastic job of really maximising the car’s potential on a Sunday.

“The exception of course, being Qatar.

“So I think if you take the peaks of Oscar’s season, they’re right up there with the peaks we saw from a Verstappen or a Hamilton, any one of that calibre really in a rookie season. Leclerc another one with Sauber.”

Piastri’s performances were enough to move McLaren to agree a contract extension with the young Aussie, keeping him with the team until the end of 2026.

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