McLaren ‘very excited’ as Oscar Piastri ‘understands very clearly what the car needs’

Jamie Woodhouse
Oscar Piastri sits in the McLaren MCL36. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Oscar Piastri sits in the McLaren MCL36 inside the team garage. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Oscar Piastri’s race engineer Tom Stallard says their new recruit has quickly built up an understanding of their machinery.

After a dispute which went before Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board, McLaren emerged with the valid contract to bring Piastri into the team for 2023, the Aussie replacing his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.

Piastri has already enjoyed time behind the wheel of McLaren machinery, testing a past car at Paul Ricard over two days, before he then got behind the wheel of the MCL36 as part of the Young Drivers’ Test in Abu Dhabi. He then had another private test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the MCL35M.

And Stallard revealed that it has not taken long for Piastri to gel with the McLaren car and figure out what makes it tick.

“He is incredibly calm all of the time,” Stallard told the McLaren website, in reference to Piastri. “He is very calm, very mature and very unfazed.

“Oscar is also very adaptable, and it is very impressive how he has been able to modulate his inputs and adjust his braking and turning to get the best out of the car.

“He has made a lot of progress, and I think he now understands very clearly what the car needs. He has been able to deliver that very effectively, and we are very excited by that.”

Piastri now heads home to his native Australia before returning to McLaren duties in the new year, where his preparations will continue as McLaren ultimately switch focus to getting him settled in their 2023 challenger.

“We’ve got plenty of work planned after he has returned from Australia,” said Stallard.

“By the time we get in the new car in Bahrain, we want to have finished all of the Oscar prep so we can focus on understanding the new car and what the new car needs.”

Oscar Piastri cleared a hurdle Daniel Ricciardo could not

If Piastri has indeed shown an ability to get the best out of the MCL35M and MCL36, then he already has gone a step further than Ricciardo, who consistently spoke of his struggles to match his style with both of those challengers to find peak performance.

Lando Norris has also referred to the MCL36 as a tricky car to perform with, saying it gave him “the opposite” of what he wanted, with the fact that it didn’t have enough front-end grip a particular point of complaint, an issue which he said has existed in the McLaren cars for “years”.

So, if Piastri quickly picked up a good understanding of those cars, and can do the same with McLaren’s 2023 challenger, then he will start his debut season in a very promising position.

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