Oscar Piastri has defied suggestions that his acrimonious departure from Alpine last year will open him up to increased pressure ahead of his Formula 1 debut with McLaren in 2023.
The Australian’s future became the primary talking point away from the track midway through last season when he declined Alpine’s public admission that he would be driving for the team, whilst simultaneously proceeding with negotiations to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
The matter was eventually resolved by the F1 Contract Recognition Board ruling in favour of the Woking-based side, paving the way for Piastri to make his F1 bow alongside Lando Norris in Bahrain next month.
Despite the scrutiny the Australian endured in the aftermath of the saga, Piastri doesn’t anticipate there being an additional burden on his shoulders, following the controversy surrounding his move.
I don’t think so, no,” was Piastri’s response when asked whether he anticipates more pressure. “I think for me, my objectives and some goals for myself haven’t changed in any way.
“And I think, regardless of how that ended last year, I think there’s probably an outside expectation with the junior career that I’ve had as well. So I think there’s a bit of expectation from a few angles, but I don’t think that it’s [indiscernible].”
As Piastri prepares to tackle his rookie campaign, the 2021 Formula 2 champion has admitted to already putting the past behind him; instead allocating full attention to his future endeavours with McLaren.
“I’m well and truly past that now. I’m focused on starting my career at McLaren and making sure I try and hit the ground running and get up to speed as quickly as I can,” he said.
Although Alpine Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, launched a stinging attack accusing Piastri of failing to show any loyalty to the side that previously funded his career, the Australian’s manager, Mark Webber, outlined the importance McLaren’s determined pursuit played in attracting his client.
Ahead of the launch of McLaren’s 2023 challenger, the MCL60, Piastri again reiterated the welcoming environment he has been adopted into and the encouragement he has drawn from being explained the team’s long-term prospects at its impressive Woking base.
“I think for me, obviously the MTC here is a pretty extraordinary building. So just the architecture here is something to behold in itself.
“I’ve been very impressed with how the team’s welcomed me as well. It’s been a very seamless introduction to the team. So that’s been really good.
“I’m encouraged by the projects that we’ve got lined up. We’ve got the new sim coming online, soon, which I’m looking forward to getting my hands on and also with the wind tunnel coming online, hopefully later in the year as well.
“So I think there’s a lot of positive stuff going on. And yeah, everyone in the team has been great in welcoming me,” Piastri expressed.