McLaren highlight key difference between Piastri and Ricciardo
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 1st April, 2023 - 4:30am
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has outlined what he considers to be a crucial difference between Oscar Piastri and predecessor Daniel Ricciardo.
Throughout his two years at McLaren, with the exception of the odd result such as his Italian Grand Prix triumph in 2021, Ricciardo struggled for form and pace.
Whilst statistics always paint a picture, there is no doubt that in comparison to Lando Norris, Ricciardo was second best to the British driver in both seasons.
Ricciardo finished 45 points behind Norris in 2021, and a staggering 85 last season, culminating in the team’s decision to terminate his contract a year ahead of schedule.
Fellow Australian Piastri has stepped into the void, and from what Brown has seen so far, he is confident the 21-year-old will be more of a match for Norris than was the case with Ricciardo.
“What we want to have is two drivers that are pushing each other,” said Brown.
“And I think early indications are that Oscar will be on the same pace as Lando and the two of them will push each other hard.
“And that’s what you want out of your two drivers, to know that it’s kind of down to you, as a team, to provide them with a car to get to the front.
“So I’m confident when you look down the list of things you need to have a winning team, having two grand prix drivers is critically important and I think we’ve got that.”
Piastri coping with “Oscar-mania”
Brown also likes how measured Piastri is for such a young age, highlighted by the fact he has not let the current race weekend on home soil at Melbourne’s Albert Park affect him.
Piastri was given roars of approval each time he took to the circuit during Friday practice at the end of which his best lap was a second off the pace of the leading time set by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
That is skewed, however, by the times in FP2 gravely affected by the rain that blew in after just 15 laps, meaning there was no meaningful soft-tyre running.
Assessing how Piastri has so far coped with the pressure of his home race and being the focus of attention, Brown added: “He’s doing very well.
“He’s a very mature 21-year-old, very focused. You kind of wouldn’t know it’s his home grand prix from his perspective.
“You can clearly tell around the track that there’s an Oscar-mania, if you like, but he’s very focused, head down.
“And you can’t really tell the difference between him here or Saudi or Bahrain, and I think that’s what’s going to make him a really good grand prix driver – his focus and his calmness.”
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