Piastri performance ‘very remarkable’ so far but work still to do

McLaren feels Oscar Piastri has been superb so far this season but Japan highlighted where he needs to improve

McLaren feels Oscar Piastri has been superb so far this season but Japan highlighted where he needs to improve – Image: Russell Batchelor/XPB

Andrea Stella has hailed Oscar Piastri’s performances in his rookie F1 season as “very remarkable”, albeit with both McLaren and the Australian recognising there is “some more work to do”.

After growing in confidence throughout the campaign, not least aided by a car capable of delivering results following a wretched start to the season for the team, Piastri delivered his best weekend of the year last time out in Japan.

The 22-year-old delivered a stunning display in qualifying at Suzuka, a circuit at which he had never driven, to finish second behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and 0.035s ahead of team-mate Lando Norris who was third quickest.

The McLaren duo then reversed positions at the end of the 53-lap race as Piastri struggled for consistent pace after being passed by Norris on the run down to the first corner, with the gap 17 seconds by the chequered flag.

It was still a moment to savour for Piastri as he secured the first podium of his F1 career.

Reflecting on Piastri’s performance in Japan ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, team principal Stella said: “The qualities he deployed to handle the weekend in Suzuka, they were very similar all across the season.

“Like he approaches (race weekends) in a very controlled way, and he is fast but he tries to make sure he doesn’t go too far in exploiting the car, just learning run by run.

“We saw that his progression was always quite consistent up to the point where he was P2 in qualifying, which is quite remarkable considering that Suzuka is an unforgiving track.

“It’s an old-school track, it’s narrow, there are a couple of places where you turn at more than 250 (kph) and you sort of hope the car will do what you want, and he was quick in these places actually.”

For Stella, it merely underlined how Piastri has grown throughout the season, with his maturity, in particular, underlined after the race at Suzuka despite scoring his first podium.

“It’s very remarkable what he’s been able to achieve so far and (that was) confirmed in Suzuka, definitely in terms of outright speed,” added Stella.

“We saw then in the race, in terms of achieving the consistency required to stay there, there is some more work to do, and he said that himself straight after.

“He was actually focused more on this element than on the fact he was on the podium, and we appreciate that. It just shows the commitment and the fact that he is ambitious.

“But we are also delighted that we could contribute to Oscar scoring his first podium. This is historical in his career, and we enjoyed the moment, together with Oscar.”

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