Webber sees long F1 career for Piastri: 'In 15 years we'll know'

Webber sees long F1 career for Piastri: 'In 15 years we'll know'

13-10-2023 14:52 Last update: 17:09

Rookie Oscar Piastri already had his first F1 victory in Qatar. It was a victory in the shorter sprint race, but the Australian again showed he could be a serious challenger to teammate Lando Norris. Whether the McLaren driver will eventually also become a challenger to Max Verstappen and have a chance of winning the F1 title? Former F1 driver and manager of Piastri, Mark Webber, talks to GPblog about it.

Piastri is the success story among the 2023 rookies. We have already lost Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant does not seem to have a long life in F1 either, due to his disappointing performance on track. Although it was only a sprint race, Piastri did manage a win in his first season. Now that McLaren has a more competitive car, the youngster is showing not only that he can race at the forefront, but (perhaps more importantly) that he can take on his teammate Norris.

Adaptability Piastri deserves praise

After Piastri's win on Saturday in Qatar, Webber spoke to the media. He had just seen his protégé win and Max Verstappen become F1 champion for the third time. Webber: "It's a big day for the Dutchies, of course but ultimately, it was a nice day for us. Oscar started off in pole position, good qualifying. It's not easy to put the lap together here. We saw a lot of people doing trick limits and running wide, but he kept a cool head. Today with the qualifying, genuine competition and then tonight, you had to handle a few restarts, different compounds around with the soft and Russell, etc, but proud of him, very happy."

Webber's praise for Piastri is understandable. What the young Australian can already do in an F1 car bodes well for the future. Webber explains what he finds so special about Piastri from his own driver's perspective: "I think it's the adaptability. He's very versatile. We already see this year, as we know, he's a rookie. It's been a lot of wet weekends. There's been a lot of disruption, tyre allocation being fixed on compounds and sprint races so there's a lot of things to get used to, but ultimately he's been quite strong on street circuits.He was strong in Spa of the rain. He was strong on the hot tracks."

"We still got a bit of work to do, maybe, on the race," Webber continued. "This was a shorter race today, but it raced him a little bit, but the qualifying has been a good step forward. I think adaptability, coolness, and also, of course, he has to be prepared to always continue to improve each day. That's natural."

Piastri to McLaren the right choice?

As the 2023 season progresses, the choice of McLaren seems a better and better one for Piastri. The team started the F1 championship badly this year, but managed to make a particularly big leap forward after impressive upgrades. The team practically went from fighting at the back to fighting at the front of the grid. Regardless of the MCL60's leap in performance, was the choice for McLaren the right one?

Webber: "I think it was really the only choice we had, because ultimately it was not too comforting last year for us to know what was happening in terms of where he could end up and I was extremely, extremely nervous and frustrated that he did not race last year. We see what we missed and to have a guy like that watching was just a travesty and was killing me inside." McLaren gave Piastri a chance and, according to the Australian, immediately showed commitment. As Webber says, Piastri could hardly do otherwise after a year along the sidelines at Alpine.

Whether Piastri's debut year at McLaren also laid the foundations for future F1 titles? Webber thinks the signs are promising, but is cautious. Webber: "Everyone loves to talk about new drivers coming in and the honeymoon period, and it's going to be this, and it's going to be that but I think ultimately he's showing some really good qualities. Of course, as you know, you need a bit of luck and momentum of positions, but ultimately in terms of seats, we might do this interview in 15 years and we see how he's gone, but let's see, baby steps first. The momentum is there."