EXCLUSIVE: Piastri explains aim of rookie F1 season
By Mat Coch
Friday 3rd March, 2023 - 6:00am
Oscar Piastri has opened up on what he is looking to get out of his rookie season in F1 ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Australian will line up for McLaren after a year on the sidelines following three successive title wins in the junior formulae.
Piastri is one of the brightest prospects to enter F1 in recent times, though he is not letting that cloud his preparations or expectations.
Throughout pre-season, he spoke of the importance of learning throughout the coming season rather than results.
Speaking exclusively with Speedcafe.com ahead of his F1 debut in Bahrain, he shed more light on what he’s looking for in 2023.
“It covers a lot of different aspects,” he explained when asked what he means when he says ‘learning’.
“The first part of the year especially, just getting back up to a racing environment.
“I think the last few years of my junior career it’s been probably one of the strengths, I would say, has been my race craft but obviously a year without racing it’s naturally going to take some time.
“And also the cars are bigger, the cars are quicker, the dirty air effect could be different – I’m sure will be different – so there’s those variables as well. Just leaning as much as I can about them.
“The races are twice as long; to learn how to manage tyres in a different way to F2.
“I’ve not done that many pit stops either,” he continued.
“In F2 you obviously have one pit stop so it’s a clearly defined strategy, whereas here obviously there’s different strategies, you can make more of a difference because it can add a pitstop, take away a pitstop.
“And just learning how to extract the most out of the car. It’s really on all fronts.
“At the moment we’ve been going about things the right way, putting all the right processes in, so I think it’s all on track, but just covering all those aspects.”
Rookie season with McLaren
Piastri joins a McLaren team in the latter stages of a building phase, with a number of infrastructure projects which will increase the team’s technical capacity in the near future.
He’ll this year race alongside Norris who is embarking on his fifth season in F1.
The Brit is highly rated by many within the paddock and is well-embedded with the team at Woking.
Comparisons to Norris will be inescapable, but in the early stages, Piastri is rightly focused on his own development rather than what’s happening across the garage.
“I obviously want to be up to speed as quickly as I can but also I’m aware that firstly, it’s not going to be an easy task,” he reasoned.
“Lando has established himself as a very quick driver as well, so I think for the first part of the year, I don’t want to put a timeline on it too much.”
Piastri Norris relationship
Encouragingly, the telemetry and engineering meetings have suggested there is little difference between the pair over a lap – there are no standout areas of difference between McLaren’s pairing.
It’s a positive not only for Piastri, as it underscores that he is on the right path, but also for the team as both its drivers are signing from the same hymn sheet.
“There’s nothing that’s standing out, that’s massively different or been a massive change for me in terms of approach or driving style, which I guess is encouraging,” Piastri said when asked about how his data compares with Norris’.
“It’s, for me at the moment, just still gelling with the car, understanding exactly how to drive it.
“I still need a bit more time that but everything seems to be.. we seem to drive in a pretty similar way, we have similar comments about the car, so I think we’ll be able to work well together.”
The relationship with Norris is working well, with the 23-year-old thrust into the role of team leader.
Even in their short time together, Piastri suggests they’ve begun fostering a positive working relationship.
“Obviously he’s got a bit more experience in Formula 1 and with the team as well, so naturally that helps with the direction of the team and the car,” he said.
“But I feel like we’re both making very similar comments which is good.
“We’ve been getting along well,” he added.
“We’ve done a fair bit of marketing activity together in papaya, so it’s been really good so far and I think we’ll have a good working relationship.”
Piastri will this weekend become the 18th Australian to race in Formula 1 when he lines up for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
He’ll have three 60-minute practice sessions ahead of qualifying first, with track action kicking off at 14:30 local time (22:30 AEDT) today.
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