Oscar Piastri admitted his rookie season in Formula 1 is brutal, after the Australian started his career in style with McLaren after snubbing Alpine.
If things went Alpine’s way Piastri – who was their reserve in 2022 – would’ve kicked off his F1 career with the French team as a replacement to Fernando Alonso who left them to join Aston Martin.
But while Alpine announced Piastri as their driver for 2023, the prodigy of former F1 driver Mark Webber announced on social media at the time that he won’t be joining and soon after was announced as a McLaren driver, replacing Daniel Ricciardo.
What followed was a legal war between Woking and Enstone, the latter losing out with Piastri entering F1 under a huge spotlight and the pressure of high expectations.
However, his performances last season were exceptional, justifying both his and McLaren’s decision, scoring points on 11 occasions, two of those being podium finishes, not to mention the highlight of his season, winning the Sprint Race over the Qatar Grand Prix weekend.
But the McLaren youngster admitted his first season in top flight was far from being a walk in the park, especially with McLaren starting 2023 on the back foot with a subpar car which was not sorted out until midseason for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Reflecting on his first season in Papaya, Piastri told ABC Sport: “The first part of the season was hard, without question, but the turnaround in the car has been remarkable.
Great desire to bring McLaren back to the front
“The desire is strong to get this team back towards the front regularly and I’ve seen that with my own eyes,” he added. “To see the team members from up on the podium and what it means to them having their drivers up there, is a brilliant tonic.”
McLaren did not wait long to lock Piastri down and announced in September that he will be racing for them until the end of the 2026 F1 season.
Piastri commented: “For the team to show that display of trust in me and push to secure my services until 2026, after just half a season in F1 was massive.
“That has just given me confidence and I can’t wait to spend at least the next three seasons, helping to push the team towards the front of the grid,” he vowed.
Next February, Piastri will shed his rookie label as he embarks on his second season in F1 with McLaren, he revealed: “The target for next year will be to build on everything that I’ve learnt in 2023 and come back in 2024 a better driver.
“Once the dust has settled on this season, there will be plenty to reflect on and learn from and hopefully take into next season.
“All I can take care of is ensuring that I keep that learning process moving forward and build on the foundations,” he admitted, adding: “A rookie season in F1 is brutal as there are so many new variables.
“The experience of dealing with those new variables for the first time this year should hopefully stand me in good stead in future seasons,” the 22-year-old hailing from Melbourne, concluded.
Piastri finished his maiden F1 season ninth in the 2023 Drivers Standings on 97 points. Teammate Lando Norris in comparison was sixth on 205.