McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella says he has been impressed with Oscar Piastri’s reaction to receiving upgrades after Lando Norris during the 2023 season.
McLaren began the year battling to score minor points, but the introduction of a revised car in Austria in July has elevated the team into podium-scoring contention.
However, Piastri was made to wait an additional round until Silverstone before receiving the substantial upgrade package.
The Australian was again placed on the backfoot when McLaren bolstered its competitiveness further with new parts in Singapore, which Norris utilised to secure his third trip to the rostrum of the season.
Stella, though, has commended Piastri’s attitude to largely being provided secondary treatment on the upgrade front, insisting that it demonstrates his leadership qualities.
“We had twice this year a situation where we needed to make a call as to: who do we give the new upgrades? Both times they went to Lando though because we thought that’s the best thing for the team, which is the only perspective to decisions that we adopt in our team,” Stella explained ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“Like in Singapore, for instance — new track for Oscar, very tricky track. Do you really want to give him the concern in free practice one? It could be a wet free practice one, and this decision needed to be made weeks before because we needed to change the chassis at the factory.
“But let’s live alone Oscar. He builds up through the weekend, and he managed from 17th to finish seventh thanks to that. In both times the conversations with Oscar were calm, rational and constructive conversations where it was easy for me to say, ‘I’m talking in the name of the team’ and it was easy for him to understand that.
“Even if as a driver you always want to have the highest potential package, it definitely prevailed in his rational team-player approach in this conversation. At no point during the Singapore weekend did we have any reference to any annoyance, any comment like, ‘I’m here a little slower but obviously the other one has the new parts’. Not even indirectly. And this means that everyone listening, everyone looking at the person, gets something by example.
“That’s the fit with the culture. Leaders — and drivers are definitely leaders in a Formula 1 team — lead by example, and Oscar you can trust is going to do it even when he is at a disadvantage.”
Piastri would be equipped with the latest specification MCL60 at Suzuka last time out and managed to pip team-mate Norris to his debut front-row starting berth in Formula 1.
Although the Briton would emphatically have the upper hand come Sunday’s 53-lap race, Piastri trailed Norris home to notch his maiden F1 podium and McLaren’s first double top-three classification in two years.