As Oscar Piastri clinched his debut front-row qualifying position and podium at Suzuka, accolades are now in full swing.
“It wasn’t my best race ever,” the budding McLaren talent remarked after trailing behind teammate Lando Norris. “But it was enough to get a trophy at the end.”
Undoubtedly, the 22-year-old is drawing attention within the Formula 1 community and further afield.
“If I were a team owner, I think I’d get hold of the Australian kid,” Bernie Ecclestone, the former F1 czar, conveyed to the Daily Mail. “He’s very good.”
However, Piastri has firmly anchored his future, at least until 2026 and the onset of the fresh engine regulations, with the surging McLaren crew.
His career is steered by renowned fellow countryman Mark Webber.
“I only knew I wasn’t good enough to win championships when I met Oscar,” manager Webber, the seasoned 47-year-old ex-Red Bull racer, mentioned to f1-insider.com.
“Despite all his talent, when it comes to his way of always wanting to get better and never resting on his laurels, he reminds me a lot of Michael Schumacher.”
Drawing comparisons, McLaren’s team leader Andrea Stella commented that Piastri echoes the vibes of a nascent Fernando Alonso.
“I have to say he (Piastri) surprised me at Suzuka, especially on Saturday,” said Stella, who had close associations with both Schumacher and Alonso in the past.
Ralf Schumacher, a previous F1 competitor, remarked, “McLaren certainly has the best driver pairing for the future.
“Oscar is a super talent. It’s hard enough to win Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships, but he did them in his first year. That is extraordinary.
“He is now doing the same thing in Formula 1. We are going to hear a lot about him,” the younger sibling of Michael Schumacher added.
Alpha Tauri’s chief, Franz Tost, renowned for his belief that F1 neophytes require at least three seasons to find their rhythm, stated, “The performance Piastri is delivering in his first year is therefore all the greater.”
Jan Lammers, a former F1 racer and current Dutch GP head, pondered if Piastri’s achievements might nudge Red Bull into a startling driver choice for 2024.
“I think Red Bull is preparing to put (Liam) Lawson in the Red Bull,” he shared with NOS. “They are probably inspired by what Oscar Piastri has done at McLaren.
“If a young boy like that can drive like a star, Red Bull has a good reason to think ‘Why don’t we just put Lawson next to Max (Verstappen)?'”