Jul.30 (GMM) Despite rumours linking him with Red Bull, Oscar Piastri says he’s content at McLaren for now.
Last year, Alpine tried to promote its development driver to the departing Fernando Alonso’s race seat – but he and manager Mark Webber rejected the deal as they controversially signed instead with McLaren.
The fresh-faced 22-year-old Australian impressed from the outset alongside Lando Norris, but he had heads really turning at Spa Francorchamps on Saturday as he took on the dominant Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Former team owner Eddie Jordan is impressed.
“He’s managed by my old partner Mark Webber and we saw how he got him into McLaren,” he told Talksport.
“Do not be surprised if there’s a seat available at Red Bull, of course where Mark used to be, and don’t be surprised if he (Piastri) is named in front of the public eye in the future.”
World champion Max Verstappen said at Spa: “I mean, I’ve been in that position as well, where the younger guy comes in.
“It’s nice, and it’s great also. I think Oscar is having a very strong season in general, but I think also this weekend he has been really on it.”
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher thinks Australian Piastri could well be on Verstappen’s level.
“Oscar is one of the best young drivers I’ve ever seen,” he told Sport1.
Another ex-driver, Timo Glock, agrees: “He doesn’t seem like a rookie. It always seems like he’s in control. You don’t get the impression at all that he’s under pressure.”
And McLaren CEO Zak Brown certainly seems happy with his new driver.
“It’s remarkable how calmly and analytically he deals with many situations despite his young age,” he said.
“His performance is particularly impressive given the fact that he has never driven a Formula 1 car at Spa – and then in the rain too.”
When asked about all the praise, and Jordan’s prediction of a future Red Bull seat, Piastri said in Belgium: “It’s flattering to hear those comments.
“I’m very happy where I am, but it’s always nice to be talked about in those kinds of ways.
“I’m happy with where I am driving-wise, although there’s still a lot to improve, a lot to learn. I’ve got a very strong teammate to learn from who just by being a benchmark is a big help for me getting up to speed.
“So yeah – happy where I am.”
However, although Piastri was the main challenger on Saturday, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko thinks Verstappen could have a tougher rival on Sunday.
Verstappen will start P6 because of his gearbox penalty – behind his old foe Lewis Hamilton.
“Hamilton was very fast (on Saturday), and I’m counting on it to be the same again tomorrow,” Marko said. “You know those two aren’t the best of friends.
“So the main goal is to overtake Hamilton. After that I think anything is possible, because when it comes to tyre degradation and the overall performance of the car, we are in a league of our own, especially with DRS.”