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Oscar Piastri's Outstanding Rookie Year in Formula One

Written by Alrissa Mariam, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Let’s talk about Oscar Piastri, the Australian rookie who made a strong impression on his Formula 1 debut after joining McLaren for the 2023 season, taking over fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s seat, the veteran leaving McLaren after two seasons alongside Lando Norris.

Piastri Piastri in the MCL60; Credit: Planet F1/Getty Images

Piastri had won the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship as well as the 2021 Formula 2 Championship with Prema Racing, and he joined the illustrious company of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenburg, Charles Leclerc and George Russell as the only drivers to win the F2 title in their rookie seasons. 

Piastri now races for McLaren in F1 for 2023, alongside British-Belgian driver Lando Norris. In his first race at the Bahrain GP, Piastri was running 8th on the grid, but had to retire by Lap 14, his car having failed to restart after a steering wheel change. 

Piastri managed to score his first points in F1 and for McLaren, finishing 8th in his home race, around Albert Park. At the British GP, Piastri qualified for a personal best, third behind his teammate, having featured in an upgraded McLaren MCL60.

During the race, he remained third, before losing out under the safety car period. Nevertheless, he finished 4th, his personal best so far, less than a second behind Lewis Hamilton.

In September, Piastri qualified on the front row for the Japanese GP, right behind Max Verstappen, and ahead of Norris. It was nothing short of impressive, given this was his first time racing at Suzuka, and he managed to achieve his personal best qualifying position. 

He finished third in the race, behind Norris, securing his maiden Formula One podium, becoming the first rookie to do so since Lance Stroll in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP. This also meant McLaren’s first double-podium finish of the season, and first since their 1-2 at the 2021 Italian GP.

Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris at the Japanese GP 2023; Credit: LAT Images

The Qatar GP was definitely one of the many highlights of Piastri’s career, as he achieved his first sprint race win at the Losail International Circuit from pole position. As for the main race itself, he finished second, with Lando coming in third, earning McLaren yet another double-podium of the season.

It was his best finish in F1 and second full race podium of the season, as well as back-to-back Driver of the Day award, having just finished 4.8 seconds behind winner, Max Verstappen, despite the race being referred to as the most physically demanding of their careers.

Piastri and Lando Norris at the Qatar GP 2023; Credit:

As for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Piastri managed to secure sixth. and landed himself 9th in the World Driver’s Championship, scoring 97 points in his debut F1 campaign. There are certainly high hopes for Piastri in McLaren, having signed a multi-year contract extension for him to stay until the end of 2026.

McLaren had a dramatic turnaround in 2023. Once the upgraded MCL60 hit the track for the second half of the season, Piastri proved even more impressive. We’ll let his performances in Japan and Qatar do the talking.

He was also the first to admit his continued learning about tyre management in races, and from Lando. We love a humble king.

Piastri was also named the FIA’s 2023 Rookie of the Year, and it was the first time the award has gone to a Formula One driver, since Alexander Albon in 2019.

Piastri wins FIA Rookie of the Year 2023; Credit: Wide World of Sports

We can certainly expect some major battles, as McLaren will no doubt be bringing in another speedy car for their young and talented drivers. There are certainly high hopes for Piastri, as well for the 2024 season, to aid his teammate in bringing McLaren back to the top of Formula One.

Team principal Andrea Stella admitted that Piastri’s amazing performance in 2023 creates expectations for the upcoming season, and expectations require work to be confirmed. The high expectations for Piastri this upcoming season will also be tied to how McLaren’s car improves further for this year.

But with his confidence, humbleness and quiet independence of his thought process, there is no doubt he will be winning more races and championships soon in his F1 career. His ability to understand and cooperate when needed certainly caught the spotlight. For instance, Piastri was instructed to let Lando pass during the Mexican Grand Prix, and he did so without question or fight. 

Piastri’s 2023 rookie year performance is definitely impressive, and has turned multiple heads. From new and casual viewers, to the hardcore fans who have watched races since the early 90s and 2000s, the Australian has definitely made an impression on everyone and is worth keeping an eye on. 

The 2024 season is around the corner, and fans are anticipating the pre-season testing in Sakhir, as well as the first race of the season in Bahrain. Will McLaren live up to the expectations after a remarkable year with Piastri and Lando Norris? Feel free to comment your thoughts!


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