Piastri Q&A: ‘2023 development offers 2024 optimism’

Oscar Piastri reflects on a positive start to his F1 career. Image: Bearne / XPB Images

Oscar Piastri reflects on a positive start to his F1 career in his latest Speedcafe Q&A. Image: Bearne / XPB Images

As the 2023 season nears its conclusion, rising F1 star and Speedcafe contributor Oscar Piastri looks back on his rookie campaign in his latest Speedcafe Q&A.

It’s been a whirlwind season filled with new circuits, some stunning highs, and plenty of learning opportunities.

From the strong development strides made by McLaren to the optimism that offers ahead of next year’s championship, Piastri covers it all.

Get Oscar’s thoughts in his latest Speedcafe Q&A below, including a question from one lucky reader!

How encouraged are you by the way McLaren has progressed this year, and are you encouraged by what you’ve seen looking towards 2024?

“I think it’s been very positive to see the impact that our upgrades have had on the car. Since I received the first big upgrade package in Silverstone, it’s thankfully been a different story to the troubles that we encountered during the first part of the season.

“That improvement is encouraging because it means that there is good correlation between the development back at the factory and the performance on the track and we can hopefully carry that forward into next year.

“Our rate of progress has been very pleasing and I think we have been surprised that the car has had such good pace at tracks where we were not sure how it would go, which is another reason for cautious optimism.”

Forgetting for a moment, there are still two races to go, has your first F1 season met or exceeded your expectations?

“I think as a racing driver, you always want more. We are programmed like that so there have certainly been moments that I want to improve on.

“This year was always going to be a huge learning process with so many new things for me – new tracks, new team and personnel and my first year in the sport.

“That said, I’ve had some fantastic moments like the Sprint win and second place in Qatar, my first GP podium in Japan and Saturday at Spa which have all been great. Missing out on the podium to Lewis at Silverstone, only because of an ill-timed Safety Car period, is still something I can look back at as a highlight.

“I have definitely learnt a lot.”

It has been suggested you’ve had the best rookie season since Lewis Hamilton. What do those sorts of comments and comparisons mean to you?

“I try not to get too caught up in comparisons or comments to be honest. It’s obviously amazing to receive support and recognition, which I’ve been very thankful for and I’ve had so many nice messages on social media but I don’t try and read too much more into it than that.

“Ultimately, I set my own standards for myself and know when I have done a good job or come up short and so I just try and stick to that. Also, the testing regulations were different in Lewis’s days and there were no Sprint races, so comparisons aren’t really possible.”

Andrea Stella and Zak Brown have always been highly complimentary of you. How important is having such positivity around you?

“Both Zak and Andrea have been great with me and welcomed me into the team fantastically. I’ve felt part of the family from my first day at MTC.

“The trust they have in me and the desire they showed to extend my contract until 2026, has given me great confidence. Importantly, Andrea has immense technical experience so to have him around at the start of my career is a real advantage.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with both of them.”

Have you driven Las Vegas on the simulator and, if so, what is it like as a track?

“It’s a pretty long track. I think only Spa and Jeddah are longer but it is also very flowing with quite a few straights and high-speed sections.

“I think it is going to be very fast with low-downforce aero packages on the cars similar to what you’d expect at places like Monza and Spa.

“Hard to tell how we will go until we get a feel for it in the flesh but I hope we can give it a good crack.”

If you didn’t become an F1 driver, what would your occupation have been (Jules Bence, Facebook)?

“I think I’d have probably gone into something related to engineering. I was always interested in science at school so I’d have probably tried to find a way into something related to cars or racing that way.

“I enjoy that process of refining and improving what you have to make things run better or smoother and like that analytical process.”

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]