Despite Oskar Piastri Lacking the necessary experience driving an FIA Formula 1 World Championship car, McLaren becomes the new boss Andrea Stella believes it won’t affect the team’s success next season as long as Lando Norris consistently sticks to setting the reference for the rest of the group.
In the summer of 2022, the McLaren driver was Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. It was unclear, however, whether the Australian would end his contract or whether rookie Oscar Piastri would make the leap to a Formula 1 spot. After Alpine had initially announced Piastri for 2023, the latter stated that he had no intention of driving for Alpine in 2023, which made it all the more likely that Ricciardo’s contract would end early.
It was well known that Daniel Ricciardo had not lived up to expectations from the start McLaren CEO Zak Brown. And despite winning McLaren in his first race in over 10 years, Ricciardo was quickly thrown out of the McLaren seat to make room Markus Weber‘s protégé, Oscar Piastri.
Now the team has moved on to a rider they hope will herald the start of a new era, some fresh meat for the team hoping they will catch up with the top three teams and bring back their competitive streak.
Speaking to the media Andrea Stella who was subsequently appointed McLaren F1 Team Principal Andrew Sidel announced his departure has been open about Piastri’s wealth of experience, which surprisingly doesn’t seem to be a big problem for the team.
Though Piastri still has a lot to learn, Stella seems more focused on the example he hopes Norris will set;
“I think the important point is to have continuity with Lando, he keeps that kind of reference,” Stella said, “and it’s a reference that we know very well because we’re going through the development of Lando together with him to have.
“And there has certainly been an evolution from a technical point of view, from a driving point of view, from a racing point of view. So I think we know that very well. It also becomes a frame of reference for Oscar. And that not only applies to Oscar’s performance itself, but also to the understanding of the car.”
Stella stressed that a season ago the driver’s role in development was no longer the focus and teams now rely heavily on numbers and data collected throughout the development process.
“We’re going to have a new car, we want to improve some things and drivers are certainly important in that context, although unlike some other sports F1 is very numbers driven which means we as humans are lucky to deal with that . I think if it were a motorcycle it would be harder to understand what role the rider plays here?
“What role does the bicycle play? But in Formula 1, the numbers give you a pretty good idea of how competitive you are. With the drivers, you’re dealing with subtleties, the last percentage of your performance, so I wouldn’t be too scared.
“If you give me good numbers, I’ll take them, even if we don’t have very clear references from the drivers.”
Stella made it clear that he has no doubts about Piastri’s talent or confidence when it comes to driving the car but hopes the Australian will learn and develop at his own pace as he racks up his track miles before the season begins in Bahrain .
“The journey we want to take with Oscar is also an independent journey. He’s certainly very talented. And we want him to use his references, references from the car, references even from what we learned with Daniel and so on.
“But we strongly believe he will have enough talent, process and intelligence to find his own way and leverage those credentials.
“So I’m not worried at all that we could lose that kind of experience in comparison.”