Former F1 strategist Bernie Collins has tipped Oscar Piastri to “really challenge” Lando Norris in the F1 2024 season after “standing up to” his McLaren team-mate in 2023.
Piastri enjoyed a fine first season in F1 this year, outqualifying Norris at traditional drivers’ circuits Spa and Suzuka and claiming two podium finishes in Japan and Qatar.
The Australian also pipped Norris to pole position for the Qatar sprint race, holding off Max Verstappen’s Red Bull to claim the win in Lusail.
Oscar Piastri tipped to take the fight to Lando Norris
Collins, who worked at McLaren before joining Force India (now Aston Martin) in 2015, is convinced that Piastri is destined for greatness having been left impressed by his focus and determination to address his weaknesses.
Appearing on the KTM Summer Grill show, Collins said: “I’ve been so impressed with Oscar Piastri – just the very basic stuff.
“Even just speaking to him in the paddock: very calm, very head screwed on, very focused on what he needs to do, not getting distracted with any of the things that come along with being in F1.
“He knew that when he went in this year, the results were going to stand on track and that’s what he needed to focus on.
“There was a lot of hype about Oscar because of how the signing went last year and everyone was worried [about how he was going] to go up against Norris, who is obviously doing well in that car.
“It was a big task and I think Oscar has really stood up to the question marks there and he’s definitely outperformed what I expected in qualifying and then sprint races.
“I interviewed him in Japan and he said the only thing he needs to work on is race pace.
“He was very honest with that interview, which I was quite surprised by. When you look at the races he’s had through the year, Norris has beaten him in that long-run race pace, how he’s holding onto the tyres through the stint.
“But the fact that Oscar – very early in the year – was fit to identify that and is working on that, he can spend the winter going through the races where Norris beat him and what he can do to improve his driving, and what he can learn from Norris’s driving.
“I have no doubt that next year, he’ll be even stronger again.
“He’s really asking questions of the team because he’s really standing up to Norris a lot more than others did.
“They’ve obviously got on pretty well this year, and if Piastri starts to really push Norris next year, does that start the rivalry?
“But [these are] really good early signs from [Piastri].
“Fantastic first year and if he can just keep up on that work ethic – every sign that he will – I think he’s going to really challenge Norris next year.
“And if the McLaren’s better, then you’re hopefully going to see a few more podiums for him.”
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