Oscar Piastri’s Exceptional 2023 Rookie Season in F1

We look at how Oscar Piastri's first year in Formula 1 compares to the debut seasons of some of the greatest names in the sport.


By Ben Bush
Updated on May 22, 2024

Oscar Piastri Rookie Season Review

Oscar Piastri’s entry into Formula 1 in 2023 resonates with the remarkable debut seasons of legendary drivers like Sir Jackie Stewart, Jacques Villeneuve, and Sir Lewis Hamilton. At just 22 years old, the Melbourne native has quickly established himself in the sport’s elite ranks.

Piastri’s first year in Formula 1 brings to mind the impactful beginnings of other champions, signifying his noteworthy transition to the top tier of racing. Despite facing a challenging teammate like Lando Norris at McLaren, Oscar Piastri showed impressive pace and adaptability. His ability to learn quickly and avoid problems, even in a season dominated by Max Verstappen and Red Bull, was evident.

READ MORE: Andrea Stella Discusses Transparent Leadership at McLaren F1

His F1 debut in Bahrain was low-key, hampered by a retirement due to an electrical issue, followed by a 15th place in Saudi Arabia. Yet, his performance in practice and qualifying in Jeddah showed his potential. Despite challenges like a collision and a long stint on hard tyres, his first race finish there showcased his resilience and learning attitude.

Piastri’s balanced approach – not overly aggressive but assertive when needed – has earned him respect within McLaren. His patience in accepting that Lando, as the senior driver, would receive priority for new parts also demonstrated his team spirit and determination.

As the season progressed and the MCL60 improved, Piastri’s performances grew stronger. He scored his first points in Australia, showcased his skill in various races, including Monaco and Spain, and impressed with a second place in the Belgium Sprint Race. His podium in Japan and a strong second in Qatar highlighted his rapid development and improved tyre management.

Despite some misfortunes, including U.S. and São Paulo retirements, Piastri consistently displayed his talent, finishing the season on a high note with notable performances in Vegas and Abu Dhabi. His wheel-to-wheel battles, particularly with Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon, were highlights of his rookie season.

Piastri’s ability to learn independently, without relying excessively on advice, marks him as a confident and self-assured driver. Team Principal Andrea Stella praises his balanced approach and trustworthiness in reporting car performance.

“I have worked with some very successful drivers in the past, and one characteristic is they are always a little unhappy,” Team Principal Andrea Stella says. “You are only happy when you see that you converge with what your ambitions are, and this sense of a little unhappiness, obviously, it needs to be intended in racing terms, and we are not talking about in the personal life. But in racing terms, I think it’s very strong in a driver pursuing excellence. I see it as a characteristic of Oscar’s attitude.

“He doesn’t have nervous reactions. He doesn’t add tension to his comments. His comments are a genuine report of what happens with a car. You can trust what he’s saying, he’s not adding anything speculatively because he needs to promote himself.”

Oscar’s pragmatic approach to his first season, focusing on learning and adapting quickly, has paid off, leading McLaren’s Zak Brown to assert that the team has one of the strongest driver line-ups for the 2024 season. “I think in Lando and Oscar, McLaren has the strongest line-up of any team going into 2024.”

Remembering that Piastri didn’t race during the 2022 season, his ability to shake off the rust and perform at a high level in 2023 is all the more remarkable. Like Stewart, Villeneuve, and Hamilton before him, Piastri has adapted to F1 naturally, signalling a promising future in the sport.

Source: McLaren F1

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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