McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown hails new recruit Oscar Piastri as “a future star” but the Aussie will need to be given time “to bore into the team”.
Piastri made his public debut with McLaren at F1’s post-season test that took place on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
The highly rated former FIA F2 and F3 champion enjoyed a productive day of running, logging a healthy 123 laps at Yas Marina without any drama.
Piastri’s convoluted path this year from Alpine to McLaren has been well chronicled, but the young gun took it all in his stride according to Brown.
“He was very mature through the whole process which, for a 21-year-old, with having all that pressure and spotlight, he was not frazzled, [he] kept his head down,” said the McLaren chief.
“We’ve now had him in our TPC [Testing Previous Car] car, he did an excellent job. I think he’s going to be a future star.
- Read also: McLaren debut already showed Piastri ‘where to improve’
“I think what’s important is he’s not raced for a year; we don’t have a lot of testing. I wish there was more pre-season testing, not just for Oscar, just in general, because he’s effectively going to get a day and a half, which is not a lot.
“I think he’s going to be competitive and push Lando. We just need to give him time to bore into the team. He’s a very serious individual, and he’s ready to go.”
By their own admittance, Alpine’s top brass struggled to come to terms with Piastri’s decision to jump ship and join McLaren.
A review by the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board ensued and ultimately sealed the conflict between the two parties in Piastri’s favour.
But there was no love lost between the Enstone squad and its former junior, accused by team boss Oscar Szafnauer of lacking loyalty, a characterization that Brown believes is unfair.
“I thought Otmar’s comments towards Oscar were very unfair and not accurate, especially having sat through the CRB and now I know exactly what happened,” explained Brown.
“I think we need to remember they were trying to sign Fernando Alonso, and it’s kind of this, ‘Oh, this seat is yours, we announced you.’
“Well, that’s only because Fernando caught you by surprise, so he was going to have to sit out another year or go to a team further down the grid, and I think he served his duty, sitting out a year.
“Ultimately, Toto [Wolff] released [Esteban] Ocon. At some point… you hold them, you invest in them, but if you can’t give them [something] and it just doesn’t work out, you can’t hold someone back.
“So the way Otmar called his integrity into question, I thought was very inaccurate and unfair, especially coming from Otmar.”
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