Lando Norris has hailed his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri as one of the best debutants in the history of Formula 1, describing him as having one of the best rookie baselines ever.
Piastri was one of the most-hyped drivers to enter F1 in the 21st century after a stunningly successful junior career, and he’s already translated that into plenty of success at McLaren.
Following an unspectacular start to the season in uncompetitive machinery, Piastri has excelled since McLaren‘s latest upgrade and Norris paid tribute to that growth, while joking about the part he’s played in that.
“I obviously played a huge role, no, he’s developed a decent amount but he started off on probably one of the best baselines a rookie’s ever started off on coming into F1,” Norris said.
“So I think he’s made a good amount of development, but the better thing is just how he started from the first race weekend itself.
“I don’t know how much of a part I played, that’s a question for him. I believe it played a part of course, because he looks at my data every weekend and he sees everything that I do, the ways that I work on and off the track. But he doesn’t need a lot.”
After becoming the first retirement of the 2023 F1 season on Lap 13 of the Bahrain Grand Prix due to an electrical issue, Piastri‘s first real opportunity came in Saudi Arabia.
There he fought and beat Norris, before scoring his first points in Melbourne. However, since Piastri received McLaren‘s game-changing upgrades at Silverstone he’s really been able to show why he deserved all the hype.
After qualifying third, he only missed out on a podium due to an ill-timed safety car and after another top-five finish in Hungary, Piastri achieved his first F1 silverware in the Belgian GP sprint.
Norris praises historic McLaren mid-season turnaround
Norris received McLaren‘s upgrades one race earlier than Piastri and went on to finish fourth at the Austrian GP, meaning McLaren have scored more top-fives with the new developments than points finishes in the eight races on the old spec MCL60.
Despite Piastri‘s stunning sprint-race success in Spa, McLaren only picked up six points in the Belgian GP itself and will be hoping for a better return at Zandvoort.
And despite their rivals also bringing upgrades, the fact McLaren are still considered podium contenders speaks volumes to their improvement from Bahrain.
“I genuinely think the turnaround we’ve had is one of the biggest we’ve seen in F1 in many, many years,” Norris said.
“In a regulation where people are saying is harder than ever to turn things around I think it’s the biggest step we’ve ever made, ever, especially in the time that I’ve been here.”