Oscar Piastri makes Lewis Hamilton judgement in rookie comparison claims

Michelle Foster
Oscar Piastri and Lewis Hamilton

Oscar Piastri and Lewis Hamilton both made their F1 debuts with McLaren.

While Oscar Piastri says it’s “nice” being compared to Lewis Hamilton, the McLaren driver believes he’s the first rookie since the Briton in 2007 to have a “competitive” car.

Arriving on the grid this season with McLaren after a contractual battle between the Woking team and his former outfit Alpine over his services, Piastri was under pressure to prove he was worth the dispute.

He did just that and more.

Oscar Piastri downplays best rookie comparisons

Although he began his Grand Prix career by failing to reach the chequered flag in Bahrain, although through no fault of his own, 21 races later he was up to 97 points, second only to Hamilton’s rookie tally of 109.

Back in 2007, though, it was only 10 points for a race win in what was a 17-race calendar and one without any extra points for Sprints or fastest laps. On today’s scale, Hamilton’s debut tally would’ve been 253 points.

He did, however, join Hamilton as a rookie race winner albeit in a Sprint not a Grand Prix, and also clinched a Sprint pole position, two fastest laps, and two Grand Prix podiums.

His performances have led to comparisons between himself and the seven-time World Champion.

But while the 22-year-old says that’s “nice”, he reckons not since Hamilton has a rookie driven as good a car as his McLaren MCL60 has been.

“It’s nice to have those comparisons definitely,” he told Sky Sports.

“I’ve been the first person since Lewis to have a car as competitive as this [in a rookie season], so that definitely helps in some ways, but I feel like it has been a good year.

“I think the thing I’ve been proud of is when I’ve had those opportunities to score podiums and fight at the front, try and fight for pole positions.

“More times than not I feel like I’ve been able to get the most out of the car and out of myself which I don’t think is a small feat.”

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Hamilton v Piastri 2023: Clashes and praise

Piastri found himself racing against Hamilton a few times in his debut season, sometimes with more success than others.

The two clashed at the Italian Grand Prix and again in Las Vegas, both times Piastri coming off second best.

At Monza Hamilton made an ill-judged return to the racing line having overtaken the McLaren driver and instead sheered off his front wing. He was hit with a five-second time penalty and after the race was quickly over to Piastri to apologise.

“It was important because it was obviously my fault and it naturally wasn’t intentional,” Hamilton told media including PlanetF1.com.

“Got up alongside and just misjudged the gap that I had to the right, clipped him and it could happen at any time.

“But I knew shortly afterward it must have been my fault, so I wanted to make sure he knew that it wasn’t intentional. That’s what gentlemen do, right?”

They collided again in Las Vegas, this time Piastri suffering a puncture on lap 16. Hamilton did too.

Piastri called that a racing incident, saying: “It was kind of just an awkward one. Neither of us had really committed to the corner that much.

“Then we both committed at the last minute, and then I was trying to back out of it, but we just ended up meeting in the middle.”

Hamilton was also one of the first to applaud the Aussie as claimed his maiden F1 race win when he held off Max Verstappen to win the Sprint in Qatar.

“Ah, amazing! Impressive! Oscar and the team,” Hamilton said over the radio on his cooldown lap.

Piastri finished the season ninth overall in the Drivers’ Championship with his 97 points going a long way toward helping McLaren achieve their target of fourth place in the Constructors’ standings.

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