Dec.7 (GMM) McLaren is taking a “risk” by putting rookie Oscar Piastri at the wheel in 2023.
It has now emerged that the 21-year-old Australian has secured his Formula 1 super license, meaning he will definitely be on the Bahrain grid.
It’s the opposite of the situation at Haas, where the inexperienced Mick Schumacher was ousted after two seasons to be replaced by 35-year-old F1 veteran Nico Hulkenberg.
“Obviously Mick cannot give us the wealth of experience of a Hulkenberg,” team boss Gunther Steiner said.
“Experience takes time so of course that’s something we can’t blame Mick for. But time is exactly what we don’t have at the moment. We have to assert ourselves in the midfield, and for that we need drivers like Nico and Kevin Magnussen.”
Steiner insists he doesn’t “blame” Schumacher for the team’s situation.
“As a team we started well in Formula 1, then we stagnated and then we actually fell back. And that wasn’t Schumacher’s fault,” he told Speed Week.
“We are no longer the same Haas team as we were in early 2021. We knew that season was going to be very difficult because we focused our resources on the development of the new car for 2022.
“It wasn’t until this year that we made progress again, but our season has been one of ups and downs. And now we need drivers who offer the best possible chance of consistently scoring points,” Steiner added.
Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost consistently says rookie drivers need at least three seasons to adjust to Formula 1, and 23-year-old Schumacher also thinks he wasn’t given enough time.
“In a way, Mick is right,” said Steiner. “He has now had two years with us, but before that a young driver has little opportunity to prepare for this job.”
And so he says that even an extremely highly-rated junior like McLaren’s Piastri, who was subject to a tug-of-war with Alpine earlier this year, is a “risk”.
“Young drivers are always a certain risk,” said Steiner.
“We know now that George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris are all outstanding racing drivers. But we didn’t really know that beforehand.
“Everyone sees Oscar Piastri as a fabulous talent, but honestly even McLaren don’t know if it’s all going to be as hoped.”