Oscar Piastri has been billed as a “hotter opponent” for Lando Norris than Daniel Ricciardo was by F1 pundit Marc Surer.
McLaren recorded their best race result of this season at the British Grand Prix when Norris and Piastri turned their second and third positions on the start grid into a P2 and P4 respectively.
With a 30-point haul in one race, McLaren shot ahead of Alpine in the battle for fifth in the championship while also emerging as a potential threat to an off-the-boil Ferrari team.
‘Oscar Piastri is here now and will heat up Lando Norris’
But while Formula 1 has begun to expect star performances from Norris, that his rookie team-mate Piastri challenged him at Silverstone was a welcome sight for McLaren.
Although Norris received many of the plaudits for his P2 on the grid, his 1:26.961 was only a tenth up on his team-mate’s qualifying time.
Piastri was also all over the back of Norris’ MCL60 once Max Verstappen jumped ahead with the Aussie rookie told to hold station by McLaren rather than attack his team-mate for position.
“I noticed him beforehand,” Surer said in an interview on the Formel1.de YouTube channel, calling the Aussie a “hotter opponent than Ricciardo” was last season.
“You could see he can do it”, Surer added before saying that previously Piastri had “never got it right over the whole weekend.”
“He’s here now and will heat up Lando Norris.”
The 71-year-old Swiss former racing driver was also full of praise for Norris, who he believes has come a long way as a driver.
“He wasn’t [a high-flyer] right from the start. When he came into Formula 1, I thought that, unlike others, he was having a hard time,” he said.
“He has learned, he has improved and is now at a level where you can say he could easily become World Champion with his talent.”
He proclaimed Norris “a complete racing driver”.
Norris himself talked up his new team-mate after the British Grand Prix, impressed by Piastri’s pace.
“I feel for him to be honest,” he told media including PlanetF1.com after the race. “He should be sitting here, if things went to plan and there wasn’t a Safety Car.
“He deserves it. He’s been on top form all weekend, he’s been pushing me an insane amount, which is a good thing. It’s raised the level of what we do as a team.
“But all year he’s been good. It’s not like he’s just turned up here and been strong, he’s been good since day one in the car and makes my life tough sometimes.
“Yeah, I don’t always like it, but it’s a good thing at the end of the day, and it makes me a better driver, too.
“He’s driving very well. He’s doing a very good job, and if we can improve the car a little bit more, we can be here a lot more often. And I’m sure he’s going to have his fair few times of being here, too.”