Piastri, who followed up his maiden Formula 1 podium in Japan with victory in the Qatar Sprint race, believes McLaren’s improvement this year shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Reflecting on McLaren’s extraordinary progress, the Australian said in Brazil last weekend: “It’s been one hell of a turnaround. Definitely. The first upgrades we put on really gave us an extra step in performance and everything else since has done the same.
“I think the most encouraging thing has been that everything we’ve wanted to put on the car, or everything we’ve wanted to change with the car, has done what it’s supposed to. All the numbers that we expected were basically the same in real life, which is…you can’t always take for granted. So I think it’s been remarkable.
“I always had belief in the team that if we had the car capable of fighting at the front we’d be ready to do it. I think we’ve been able to show that in the second half of the year.
“But yeah, the development and progress on the car side of things has been incredible and I think now we’re slowly getting more and more comfortable with being at the front and instead of referring to some of the other teams as the top teams, they’re our competitors now.”
Amid McLaren’s sluggish start, Aston Martin capitalised on further developing its version of Red Bull’s downwash sidepod solution to score six podiums in the first eight races.
However, a combination of rival teams diverting to that philosophy and its upgrades producing adverse side effects has seen the Silverstone side regress down the order.
McLaren has managed to overturn a 137-point deficit to Aston Martin after Canada into a 21-point advantage in the battle for fourth with two rounds remaining in 2023.
Asked if he thought it was possible to defeat Aston Martin after the two teams’ contrasting beginning to the season, Piastri replied: “Until Austria, no. Definitely not.
“Even the rate that we managed to catch them [at] – I don’t think it was ever really a target necessarily to beat them, it was just to try and improve and whatever results we got is what we got. And the rate’s just been what it has been and it’s been enough to overtake Aston.
“Of course at this point of the year, of course we want to stay ahead of Aston but we’ve very firmly like the teams around us got an eye on next year. And hopefully we can come out strong. But definitely at the start of the year we didn’t expect to have the second half that we’ve had.”