Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Piastri ‘patting himself on the back’ for delivering results as McLaren improved

Formula 1

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McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was the star rookie of the 2023 Formula 1 season, taking two grand prix podiums and winning a sprint race.

He rode the wave of his team’s improved competitivity in the season’s second half, kicking it off with a podium in the Spa-Francorchamps sprint race, setting the fastest lap in the Italian Grand Prix, finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix then winning Qatar’s sprint race and coming second in its grand prix.

But he also scored less than half of the points that his team mate managed, had two non-finishes when McLaren were at their competitive peak and only scored twice in the first nine rounds.

“There’s been a lot of lessons,” Piastri summarised. “You can’t rest, making a mistake in F1 cost you a lot more than it might do otherwise [in Formula 2]. All the drivers are extremely competitive, all the teams now are extremely competitive, and you take it a little bit easy and you can suddenly lose a lot of time, a lot of positions. So that’s probably the biggest one.

“There’s been specifics on driving and energy management as well. It’s been a busy year. But just how competitive everything’s been, that you can’t rest on your laurels.”

His and the team’s result improved markedly after they introduced a major upgrade which Piastri first used at Silverstone. Piastri said his season had “a lot of highlights” but they wouldn’t have been possible “without the team improving the car the way we did.”

“I have to give a lot of credit to them,” said Piastri. “But also pat myself on the back, I had to deliver in those moments too.

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“For me, that’s probably the proudest moment. At Silverstone, where we rocked up with a car that was competitive, I was able to get the most out of it [to finish fourth].

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Silverstone, 2023
Piastri revelled in the update McLaren from Silverstone
“Japan was not my finest race but did enough to score my first podium. And Qatar, we had one opportunity really in the whole year to actually win something, and we managed to take it. So I can be very proud of that. Definitely some tricky weekends and things still to work on.”

Piastri finished his season with fastest lap in the Las Vegas Grand Prix and then sixth place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He said it was “nice to just have a clean race” in the finale having felt “it’s been a while since I’ve had a race without contact or something crazy going on.”

Improving his tyre management over a stint remains a clear area Piastri can improve, as the final races of the season showed. He said that has “definitely been the area of focus for the whole year” on his side of the McLaren garage.

“These tyres are not easy, this car is not easy in certain conditions, so it’s always a bit of a new experience in every grand prix. So hopefully – now I’ve been to all the circuits in this car, I know a bit more what to expect, I feel like I’ve left every race knowing a lot more than I did at the start of them – that can be a bit stronger next year.”

However the successes he enjoyed later in the year have left him brimming with confidence for 2024.

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“It’s definitely been a bigger roller-coaster than I expected,” he said. “I knew there would be ups and downs, maybe not as down at the start or as up at the end, but I’ve really learnt a lot. I feel like I’ve had basically every situation you could have, apart from a championship fight. So it’s been a good year in terms of learning.

““As a team, we’re learning how to compete at the front again, which is exciting. It’s not a position we’ve been in for 10 years, so nice to be having these conversations again, going through these scenarios.

“For me, it’s really a privilege to be fighting at the front so early in my career. There’s people that go their whole F1 career that don’t have the opportunity that I’ve had in 22 races. So I’m very, very grateful for that. And I’m looking forward to many more years to come where hopefully we can do that more often.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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5 comments on “Piastri ‘patting himself on the back’ for delivering results as McLaren improved”

  1. I’m glad he’s able to look back on his rookie season with satisfaction. Of course he needs to build on this, and we all hope he does, but too many people get caught up in “what ifs”

    I think the whole paddock will be glad to know this endearing rookie is mature enough to look back, say “that was good”, and enjoy Christmas.

  2. I’m really looking forward to next year to see whether or not Piastri can continue his upward trend.

    If he does, Mclaren will have a killer driver combination so let’s hope he’s not a flash in the pan and proves to be a real contender.

  3. There was a lot to like about his progress this year. Suzuka, Silverstone and Spa are the stand out for me, ironically real racers tracks. Its up to McLaren now as they have the deadliest driver combination on the grid.

  4. Norris has to raise his level to absolute maximum or he will be left behind by Piastri. Last season Lando moaned and whined about ‘letting himself down’ when Piastri won the sprint, for example. That is not going to suffice in 2024. It ‘s put up or shut up time.

    1. Piastri had an amazing roockie season ; It was a bit the “feel good” story of the year for me.

      But overall Norris was still clearly faster, especially in races. Which is normal, drivers needs time to grow in the sport. But Oscar will need to continue his upward trend before leaving Lando behind. It will be a very nice battle to follow, I have to say.

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