A respected Formula 1 observer believes that the fact that Oscar Piastri’s impressive success in the junior categories was achieved with Prema casts some doubt on his true potential.
Piastri will make his F1 debut in 2023, having been signed by McLaren to replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, who was dropped by the team after two disappointing seasons alongside Lando Norris.
The former Alpine protégé emerged as a future F1 superstar by winning back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in 2020 and 2021, but former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor has warned that the reputation of the Prema team in the junior races is so good that drivers can be made to look above their natural level.
Through his Twitch stream, he said: “I suppose we should all be excited about Oscar Piastri just because of what he has achieved in Formula 3 and Formula 2.
“He achieved that with Prema, so you should always have something to do with it – ‘achieved with Prema’ rather than ‘achieved with MP Motorsport or DAMS or Carlin’ because Prema is so good.
“If you are the number one chosen driver at Prema, it is a good ride to drive.
“So that’s the first and second he’s had the guts to turn down a full race Alpine Formula 1 ride. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s what they did and when you do that you have tremendous confidence.
“And so now he’s in a McLaren and next to Lando Norris I’ll be fascinated to see how he goes.”
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Windsor drew comparisons between Piastri’s path to an F1 seat and Ayrton Senna’s, revealing that the legendary Brazilian made a conscious decision to start his career with a small team.
He added: “I was lucky enough to be at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna’s first Formula 1 race, and I followed Ayrton all weekend – I even drove off the track with him one day , hung out with him – and he was just brilliant.
“He was absolutely perfect in everything he did: the Toleman setup; whenever there was a problem with the car he was patient, he was calm, he helped mechanics and he got just the right lap time and performance out of the car given where Toleman was on the grid. He was brilliant.
“So I have to say, that’s the level of expectation from Piastri, because here’s a guy who said no to Alpine and he’s going for McLaren.
“It’s kind of a counterpoint to Ayrton in a way because Ayrton wanted to start with a small team and grow with that team and then, after a year, maybe go to a Lotus or a Williams or wherever, while Piastri didn’t is doing.
“If he had gone in at Alpine as a rookie driver alongside Esteban Ocon, there is a little less focus on him and a little less pressure than he has now at McLaren, where he turned down Alpine alongside Lando Norris.
“So he puts a lot of pressure on himself, which Ayrton Senna never did. But assuming he’s the next Ayrton Senna, which a lot of people tell us, then it will be interesting to see how he does.
“And it’s interesting to see how Lando handles that as well, really interesting.
“Personally, I think Lando is exceptionally good and I don’t think he will have any problem with Piastri, but given everything that has happened with Piastri in the last nine months, you have to say that this guy is incredibly confident and his own ability. to get in there and be an Ayrton Senna for rejecting Alpine.