McLaren confident ‘calm’ Piastri can avoid Australian GP hype

The Australian Grand Prix promises to be a highlight for Oscar Piastri

The Australian Grand Prix promises to be a highlight for Oscar Piastri if he can handle the hype

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is backing Oscar Piastri to remain ‘in a bubble’ across what will undoubtedly be an exciting but potentially draining home grand prix in Australia next weekend.

The spotlight will be on Melburnian Piastri, particularly as he will be racing for the first time in F1 in front of his local crowd around the Albert Park circuit.

Unfortunately for the 21-year-old, the start to his F1 career has been a difficult one following his contentious move from Alpine to McLaren over the winter.

An early retirement in the opening race in Bahrain was compounded by a minor collision with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly at the start of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which damaged his front wing, requiring an immediate pit stop and pitching him to the back of the pack from where he finished 15th.

Piastri did at least show in qualifying for the event at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit what he is capable of by securing a place in the top 10, and his consistent progress has so far delighted Stella.

The Italian appreciates, however, the Australian GP is set to have a significant impact on Piastri, although he is confident his driver can maintain a level head.

“He is a very calm guy,” said Stella. “I think he will be able to keep himself in the bubble.

“Certainly we’ll have to make sure that he can stay focused on the racing, and he stays focused on keeping up with this exceptional rate of development session after session.”

Melbourne should suit McLaren

The race represents the last of those at which McLaren knew it would face difficulties prior to unleashing its aggressive development from the following grand prix in Azerbaijan, with a four-week gap between the two events.

Stella feels his team should be relatively competitive around Melbourne, as it was for the most part – certainly on Piastri’s side of the garage – at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“Looking at the track, in terms of Tarmac, grip, speed of the corners, I would say it should be more similar to Saudi than Bahrain,” assessed Stella.

“So we look forward to that race in terms of being able again to challenge for Q3 and then challenge for points.”

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