McLaren chief executive has hailed Oscar Piastri as a “superstar” and remarked that his partnership with Lando Norris is reminiscent of the team’s era with Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.
Piastri impressed in his debut F1 season in 2023, registering two podium finishes in Japan and Qatar and claiming victory in the Lusail sprint race.
Although the team failed to add to their tally of 183 grand prix wins, 2023 was arguably McLaren strongest season in more than a decade as they recovered from a slow start to emerge as the most consistent threat to Max Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull outfit.
McLaren hail Oscar Piastri as a ‘superstar’ after impressive rookie season
Brown – who controversially signed Piastri as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement for 2023, upsetting the Alpine team who oversaw his outstanding junior career – has been thrilled with the 22-year-old’s development after sitting out the entire 2022 season.
And he is convinced that McLaren, who gave seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton his debut in 2007, have another potential F1 superstar on their hands.
He told Channel 4: “He’s done an awesome job. He’s been extremely fast.
“People forget he took a year off so you would have thought he would have a little bit of rust, but there wasn’t much rust there.
“His pace has never been in doubt but his maturity, and the way he’s tackled weekends, is very impressive for a rookie. He’s made very few mistakes.
“He doesn’t try and win on Friday, he puts the lap down when he needs to, which is usually Saturday in qualifying, so I think we’ve got a superstar on our hands.”
Coulthard spent nine seasons at McLaren between 1996 and 2004, helping team-mate Hakkinen to two consecutive World Championships in 1998 and 1999.
Put to him that he has one of the best driver line-ups in F1 currently, Brown – with Channel 4 pundit Coulthard watching on – replied with a smile: “I agree. I think the combination of their age and Lando’s experience, it reminds me of the Mika-DC days.”
Coulthard interjected: “Without the crashing!”
Despite a remarkable start to his career in 2023, outqualifying his established team-mate at classic driver circuits Spa and Suzuka, Piastri ultimately finished three places and 108 points adrift of Norris in the Drivers’ standings.
Norris equalled his best F1 result of second place on six separate occasions over the course of 2023, but remains without a grand prix victory to his name after five full seasons.
The 24-year-old stands as the driver with the most points without a win in F1 history, having scored 633 since his arrival on the grid in 2019.