McLaren F1 driver Zak Brown admits signing rookie Oscar Piastri was a ‘calculated risk’.
Last week, 21-year-old Oscar Piastri made his official debut as a McLaren F1 driver at the Abu Dhabi post-season test. Ahead of his media debut as a McLaren driver, he clocked over 100 laps despite a brief interruption due to a power unit sensor problem.
Oscar Piastri joins F1 as the most qualified junior of his generation, with a track record that surpasses even Lewis Hamilton.
Oscar Piastri pushes past Daniel Ricciardo to make his F1 debut with much fanfare. Naturally, replacing an eight-time race winner with a driver who has never raced in a Grand Prix is a risk and seen as a gamble.
“Everything in F1 is a calculated risk, but we are very optimistic,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown told Speedcafe.com.
“So we’re going to keep our heads down and give him all the support we think he needs.”
“We wouldn’t have made the decision if we didn’t have the confidence that it would succeed.”
Oscar Piastri is a very different character to the playful image of Daniel Ricciardo. Although extremely ambitious and focused, he is more reserved than the outgoing Ricardo.
“I think people need to know. We don’t want to compromise who he is or his character,” Zak Brown explained.
“I think it is unfortunate that Othmar[Szafnauer]and Alpine has accused me.”
Oscar Piastri’s character has been questioned by Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer as the story of his contract unfolds. Piastri famously rejected Alpine’s announcement that he would drive for the team in 2023.
The matter was brought before the contract approval committee, which was unanimously in favor of a deal with McLaren.
While Oscar Piastri and his new employer McLaren have been silent, Alpine has spoken on the matter. Otmar Szafnauer questioned Piastri’s loyalty and integrity suggesting that he had made a mistake.
Of course, it became clear that Oscar Piastri was a free agent when he agreed to a contract with McLaren and he was not. It was certainly a smart move to give the rookie a more competitive boost than the loan offered by Williams Alpine.
Having experienced that story, Zak Brown is not worried that he has done too much damage to Oscar Piastri’s reputation, and that his young driver’s personality will soon shine through.
“In that sense the truth is starting to come out,” Brown said, referring to the quagmire that occurred during the contract dispute.
“You don’t have to put pressure on him to try to build something up. Let him speak for himself. Let the results of the course speak for themselves.”
“He’s just like Lando. We didn’t create Lando, we created ourselves when Lando entered the sport.”
“So I think what we have to do is not put pressure on them or try to do ‘This is Oscar’.”
“Let Oscar remain Oscar and let his results – who he is – be told in time.”
Category: F1 / mclaren / Oscar Piastri