Written by Carrie Foley, Edited by Meghana Sree
On Divebomb’s 2023 Rookie Watch series, today we’re looking at up-and-coming Australian hotshot, Oscar Piastri.
Piastri faced his fair share of criticism last year due to his rather messy entrance into Formula 1. There was a lot of confusion surrounding his 2023 seat announcements, with Alpine claiming he would be driving for them, meanwhile preparations were being made for him to sign with McLaren. Furthermore there was a huge controversy surrounding the McLaren seat, as it required fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo to exit the team prematurely, with an extortionate pay-off of £18 million.
Naturally this created a lot of tension and Piastri, as Ricciardo’s replacement, was made the face of the latter’s ‘unfair’ treatment, although of course Piastri could not have had any power or sway in the situation. For this reason, there was a lot of pressure for Piastri to perform well. After all, he was coming into F1 to replace one of the most-loved drivers to ever be on the grid, and he would have to work extremely hard to prove that he is deserving of the position.
Since then, however, Piastri has proved to be an invaluable member of the McLaren team. Despite a nightmare season opener, which was his debut F1 race, where Piastri had to retire his car in the early stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix, he has delivered some impressive drives regardless of the challenges of the MCL60. In fact, as written by Tony Dodgins of Motorsport.com about Piastri and his teammate Lando Norris’ performance this season: “the delta between the pair over the opening six races was actually the closest across the entire grid, at just 0.07sec”. It would seem Piastri is stepping up to the task very well.
Furthermore, as of the British Grand Prix, Piastri is currently 11th in the Driver’s Championship standings with 17 points. This is the highest standing of all rookies this season, putting a staggering eight positions between himself and Williams’ Logan Sargeant. He is also the only 2023 rookie to have scored points so far this season.
Piastri has continued on this upward trajectory. He delivered his most impressive performance yet at the British Grand Prix following some much-needed upgrades. Piastri qualified P3, alongside Norris who was able to secure P2. He showed very good pace during the race, but due to an unfortunately timed safety car that kept him in P4, he narrowly missed out on a podium finish.
Other drivers have praised Piastri’s Silverstone performance. Norris himself said in a post-race interview: “Oscar should have been up there. We should’ve had two McLarens on the podium.” Post-qualifying, Hamilton said: “I’m really, really happy for McLaren, to see McLaren up there, that’s the highlight of the day for me.” Additional supportive messages from numerous drivers emerged on social media throughout the weekend. Piastri’s impressive performances are not going unnoticed, it seems, and with the upgrades to the ML60, the rewards are finally being reaped.
Piastri is certainly making sure that people are paying attention to him: he is clearly here to make waves, and if his incredible performance so far is anything to go by, we can absolutely expect great things from him.