‘Oscar Piastri could chase Lando Norris out of McLaren and would thrive at Red Bull’

Oliver Harden
McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have fun in the paddock ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, 2023.

McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have fun in the paddock ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, 2023.

Formula 1 pundit Peter Windsor fears Lando Norris could be chased out of McLaren by rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri, who wouldn’t look out of place in a race-winning Red Bull.

Piastri was signed by McLaren for 2023 to replace fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who was dropped by the team after two seasons of struggle alongside the highly rated Norris.

With McLaren scratching for pace, the 22-year-old – Champion in F3 and F2 in consecutive seasons in 2020 and 2021 – has made a good first impression in difficult circumstances by reaching Q3 in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan and scoring his first points with a P8 finish in Melbourne.

Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, Windsor is so convinced by Piastri’s potential that he reckons he could thrive at Red Bull – winners of the first five races of 2023 – and would measure up well against Carlos Sainz at Ferrari.

However, he feels the emergence of Piastri could ultimately lead Norris to look elsewhere.

Asked by a viewer to assess Piastri’s start to the season, he said: “From what I’ve seen now, I think he’s got short corners.

“I think he’s got lovely touch.

“I think he drives really, really well and he’s got enormous potential.

“In a Red Bull right now, he’d be really quick.

“In a Ferrari, he’d be not far away from Sainz out of the box.

“It’s very early days [so] obviously he’s not as quick as George [Russell] or Lewis [Hamilton] or Charles [Leclerc] or Max [Verstappen].

“But I think he’s potentially right up there.

“And this is the problem for Lando.

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“I’m not saying that Lando’s not as quick if not quicker.

“I think Lando’s got enormous potential as well, but he’s in danger at the moment of going sideways in terms of his career at McLaren and Piastri has got nothing to lose at McLaren.

“He can only gain by looking good alongside Lando.

“This is an important year for Lando because he needs to come out of it basically being three tenths to five tenths quicker than Piastri everywhere and blowing him away.

“That’s not happening yet.

“And if it’s not happening, Lando needs to be in another team getting his career going with some sort of skyrocket because Piastri’s eating into Lando’s stock right now, I think.”

Windsor has been a consistent critic of McLaren’s decision to drop Ricciardo at the end of 2022, previously describing his partnership with Norris as “one of the best driver pairing we’ve had in Formula 1 for a long time.”

And he feels Norris will not be enjoying the change of dynamic within the team following Piastri’s arrival.

He added: “Partly it’s because Lando’s got to start focusing on what Piastri’s doing because he is quick and he does know what he’s doing with a racing car.

“And I’m not saying that Daniel wasn’t quick at some point and didn’t know what he was doing in a racing car, but it wasn’t difficult for Lando basically to ‘do’ Daniel.

“It’s much more difficult for him to ‘do’ Piastri.

“And that will have an effect because there will be moments when Lando might say: ‘Yeah, but what’s Piastri doing?’

“The engineer will say to Lando, irritatingly: ‘Well, Oscar’s doing this’ – which Lando doesn’t want to hear, probably.

“So all that’s coming in and none of that’s a help to Lando.

“I always said it’s a great shame.

“I think Lando/Ricciardo was a great team and this is a less balanced team now – but he’s a faster driver, for sure, Piastri.

“He’s good. He’s really good.”