McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has heaped praise on Oscar Piastri, describing his display in the British Grand Prix as “outstanding”.
The Australian, 22, finally received the substantial upgrade package McLaren introduced on his team-mate’s car at the previous round at Silverstone and the improvements saw both McLarens wound up inside the top three in qualifying.
Piastri, who started third, proceeded to register his best finish in F1 to date on Sunday, taking the chequered flag in fourth – two places behind Lando Norris.
Stella says he has been massively impressed by Piastri in his rookie year, highlighting how he had already shown glimpses of his potential prior to his exploits last weekend.
The Italian chief, who worked extensively with Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, also credits Piastri for the maturity he displayed fighting at the front in racing conditions.
“First of all, Oscar’s performance is just outstanding,” he said.
“If you think he is a rookie and right away, even in practice, he was immediately quick and immediately in some corners a good reference for Lando himself.
“If you remember the last corner in Barcelona how quick he was straight away and here [at Silverstone] in some high-speed stuff Oscar was again very quick.
“This allows some synergies between the drivers because both can see where you can improve from each other and this elevates the performance of both drivers. So not only are we impressed, but there is a net benefit in having two competitive drivers, because both can benefit.
“I think the speed that Oscar is able to deploy, we have seen it already, as I mentioned, with the qualifying lap in Barcelona, which was on par with Lando in P3 until he put a wheel on a wet patch and lost 0.7s.
“So for me, this is just confirmation and if anything the element that comes out today is the race craft and his ability to keep grip in the tyres, clean driving in an intense situation.
“Think about the Safety Car restart, on a hard tyre he was immediately there, so this is a mature race craft that is quite impressive in a guy that is so young.”
Whilst Piastri secured an impressive fourth, he was made to rue a Safety Car that denied him from joining Norris on the podium.
The ex-Formula 2 champion was running a comfortable net third but was leapfrogged by Lewis Hamilton when the intervention allowed the Mercedes to emerge ahead.
Stella, however, has defended the timing of Piastri’s stop, reasoning that the team wanted to avoid the risk of the undercut rather than gamble on the appearance of a Safety Car.
“At that stage we were starting to lose a little bit the tyres, so that was a concrete risk that we could lose the position and that would have meant we would have had to regain the position by overtaking,” he explained.
“It was late enough in the race to pit safely and while you always want to think about if there is a Safety Car, it is not like you compromise your strategy because there can be a Safety Car.
“So I think it’s one of those situations where it is just unfortunate timing and in the randomness of a safety car being deployed rather than something that you can really predict.”
Nevertheless, Piastri’s placing along with Norris’ second place granted McLaren a 30-point haul, elevating the Woking side above Alpine into fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.