Mark Webber has declared himself thrilled with Oscar Piastri’s start to life in F1 with McLaren, claiming his fellow Australian is “doing the business on the track” in his debut season.
Piastri arrived on the F1 grid after winning the F3 and F2 titles in successive years in 2020/21, with McLaren luring him from Alpine as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement for 2023.
McLaren braced themselves for a tough start to the season after missing development targets but have shown encouraging progress in recent weeks, with Piastri qualifying just a tenth off established team-mate Lando Norris to start third at last weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri ‘loving’ life in F1
While Norris converted his strong starting position into a podium – his and McLaren’s first since April 2022 – an ill-timed Safety Car cost Piastri third place to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
As the 22-year-old’s manager, former Red Bull and Williams driver Webber has played an instrumental role in Piastri’s career to date.
And appearing on ITV’s television coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Piastri wowed crowds behind the wheel of James Hunt’s 1976 title-winning McLaren M23, he believes Piastri is the latest in a number of exciting young drivers – including Norris, George Russell, Charles Leclerc and reigning World Champion Max Verstappen – to have arrived in F1 in recent years.
Asked if Piastri embraces the history of motor racing at an event like Goodwood, Webber said: “I think so, yeah.
“He said: ‘God, how did James Hunt fit in this car?’ He’s driving James Hunt’s 1976 McLaren, which is awesome. McLaren have huge presence here.
“It’s literally every week for him, it’s like: ‘Oh, let’s go to Wimbledon. Let’s go [here].’
“As a Formula 1 driver, of course he’s learning a lot, doing the business on the track, so it’s a great journey for him.
“And it’s just so nice to watch a young kid again coming through as we have. We’ve got Lando, George, Charles – we’ve got so much [talent]. Of course, Max as well. He’s not young anymore but he’s still pretty young, obviously.
“Formula 1’s in great shape with the young blood coming through and Oscar’s loving it.”
Last month, Piastri explained the value of having a figure of Webber’s knowledge and experience within his inner circle during his debut season, admitting he was “a little bit too relaxed for Mark’s liking” prior to the start of 2023.
He told Motorsport.com: “His advice was to not underestimate the challenge of Formula 1 and how big of a step up it is, not just from the cars but from everything: the amount of people you need to interact with, the media commitments, and the sponsor commitments.
“It’s all much higher than before.
“I think having him reminding me of that before the season started was nice, so not to be shocked when I arrived. That’s probably been the biggest thing.
“But he’s very helpful with small driving tips here and there as well, and sometimes thinking of questions for the engineers that don’t even come to my head at the moment.
“He’s still very sharp. He thinks like a racing driver still and is always trying to get the best out of me.”