McLaren CEO Zak Brown has hailed Oscar Piastri for how he handled his contractual dispute earlier this year.
Piastri was part of the Alpine junior programme for a number of years prior to 2022 and was announced as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for the 2023 campaign.
However, Piastri had already agreed to a deal to race in 2023 with McLaren, with the matter going to the Contract Recognition Board (CRB).
The CRB ruled in McLaren’s favour and solidified Piastri’s position on this year’s grid.
Piastri has since been at the end of a number of jabs from Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer, who has questioned the Australian’s loyalty.
But Brown has defended his latest recruit, insisting that not rising to Alpine’s comments displays his level of maturity.
“Very focused, very mature, determined, doesn’t seem to have a lot of ups and downs in his emotions,” Brown told Speedcafe when asked about his first impression of the Australian.
“And I saw a lot of that through the turmoil over the summer. You know, he’s a 21-year-old and here you have a big OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer], was making accusations and taking you to court.
“You have to be a pretty tough character as a 21-year-old to be unfazed by that, and he was, and he kept his head down, and I think he’s going to let his driving do his talking.
“He didn’t get into a war of words, even though Otmar said some very unpleasant and inaccurate statements. You know, Oscar didn’t rise to that.
“So what I see is a very focused, determined, mature 21-year-old. That’s what I see out of the car, and in the car, we see the same thing and we see that he’s very fast.”
Piastri will partner Lando Norris at the team in 2023, with Daniel Ricciardo departing following two difficult seasons with the Woking-based squad.