Martin Brundle says it’s “inevitable” new McLaren signing Oscar Piastri will have one big accident early in his career, but it’s the first corner tangles and reliability issues that will test his self-belief.
This season Piastri is finally on the Formula 1 grid, the Aussie replacing his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
It has already been suggested that no rookie since Lewis Hamilton back in 2007 has created the hype that Piastri has, not only because of his formidable results in racing’s junior series but also his 2022 contract saga as two teams fought for his services.
But can he perform in the big league?
“I think it’ll depend on how it starts for him, the first few races,” Brundle told Fox Sports.
“If he gets some good results in and he gets some confidence, then there’ll be a big shunt somewhere that’ll catch his attention – inevitable.
“But if you start with some tangles in the first few corners and a bit of reliability, maybe you can’t find your way one weekend and your chin drops, that’s a very telling moment then as to whether you can turn that around and keep your self-belief.”
Brundle says the clock will begin ticking for Piastri in Bahrain this weekend.
“They’re probably given, if you’re going to be generous, the first half of the season to find their way,” said the former F1 driver, “but in the second half of the season they need to be on it or they’re going to get changed.
“There are no excuses in Formula 1. There’s nowhere to hide. You’ve got to deliver.”
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And deliver is exactly what Piastri intends doing.
Prolific in motor racing’s junior series, Piastri found himself sidelined last season as having won the 2021 Formula 2 title he wasn’t able to continue in that series while Alpine did not have a race-seat open for him.
Taking on a reserve driver role, he ultimately signed with McLaren when it appeared Alpine were once again unable to offer him a race-seat with the team intent on continuing with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
But when Alonso announced he would be off to Aston Martin, Alpine tried to secure Piastri’s services but he had already signed with McLaren.
It made for a convoluted arrival onto the F1 grid for the 21-year-old but one he is relishing.
“It’s been 12 years since I started racing so everything up until that point has led to know,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com. “So to be calling myself a Formula 1 driver and preparing for my first race is a special feeling.
“Having that year out I definitely gained a new kind of appreciation for how much I enjoy racing. Even in the bad times it’s still better to have that chance than no chance at all.
“I think I’ve come back with probably more hunger I would say than previously and now that I’m here it’s just a great feeling, I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”
He also downplayed the general opinion of gloom surrounding McLaren ahead of the new season and a difficult pre-season.
According to Piastri, the team is “somewhere in the midfield”.
He added: “Obviously the test wasn’t the smoothest but I think we’ll get a better understanding of where we’re at tomorrow [during practice].”