Brown: Piastri ‘not driving like a rookie’

Zak Brown feels Oscar Piastri is performing above and beyond what could be expected of a rookie

Zak Brown feels Oscar Piastri is performing above and beyond what could be expected of a rookie. Image: Russell Batchelor/XPB

McLaren CEO Zak Brown feels Oscar Piastri is performing at such a level that you would not know he was an F1 rookie.

Piastri is having one of the most successful rookie seasons for many a year, with the 22-year-old Australian ninth in the drivers’ standings, notably off the back of his first taste of McLaren’s major upgrade package at the British Grand Prix.

The races in Japan and Qatar, in particular, have underlined Piastri’s improvement, finishing third at Suzuka and second at the Lusail International Circuit, where he also won the sprint from pole position.

With Piastri’s star seemingly rising, Brown has again reiterated a comment he made earlier in the season when he said his young driver was an F1 champion in the making.

Asked by Speedcafe as to where he saw Piastri in five years’ time, after earlier commenting on his team-mate Lando Norris’ improvement as a driver since making his debut in 2019, Brown initially and obviously said: “Even more experienced.

“He’s extremely quick, he’s very mature, very technical, very calm, all the things you’d like to see out of a rookie, but you don’t necessarily always see out of a rookie.

“Clearly, his pace is fantastic, and I suspect his race craft, his tire management, and his race management will only get stronger and stronger as he gains experience.

“I think people forget he also sat out last year. He didn’t have much rust on him when it comes to race-craft, but I think he’s definitely showing me signs of being a potential future world champion.”

Given McLaren’s pursuit of Piastri just over a year ago after successfully battling with Alpine for the driver’s services through a Contract Recognition Board hearing, he has proven why the team engaged in such a fight.

In many respects, despite a year on the sidelines last season, Piastri has driven as if that season did not exist following his back-to-back title triumphs in F3 and F2 in 2020 and 2021.

As to whether Piastri had surprised him in any way over the past eight months and 17 grands prix, Brown remarked: “The maturity and the way he approaches a race weekend, he kind of doesn’t worry about Friday.

“Rookie drivers maybe sometimes want to win free practice one, and they end up in the fence, and then they never recover for the weekend.

“The part that’s impressed us most is his maturity. He’s not driving like a rookie.

“We knew his pace was going to be there, and he’s very technical. So he studies, learns, and puts it together when he needs to.”

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