Andrea Stella has all the praise for Oscar Piastri after his uplifting performances in F1 2023 and keeping Lando Norris on his toes.

It hasn’t been the best of times for McLaren with both their drivers attacking in one go. Daniel Ricciardo just didn’t gel with the car and was eventually dropped in favour of Piastri in 2023 and the gamble worked in favour of the Woking-based team.

As the season progressed, Piastri started to show his potential and in the last few rounds, even fought for podium places when the car came alive. After some low-key run on the other side of garage, the Australian finally uplifted them with his results.

“I think, for Oscar, while we see this peak in his result, actually, for us is just confirmation of his trajectory,” said Stella. “If we go back even to Bahrain, we were already talking about his progress from session to session, and from testing to the first race as well. I think this is just capitalising on this gradient that seems to be so strong and consistent for Oscar.

“The side of the garage, they kept working in the way with the best practice, with the attention that they’ve had in the previous years. But definitely, it’s important from an engineering point of view that you learn as much as possible, having worked with different drivers, having gone through highs and lows.

“What’s important in this sport is that every day you are better than yesterday. So, even in terms of the engineering that supported Daniel and now is supporting Oscar, there’s definitely been quite a lot of learning and self-criticism, in a way, which is the way that you actually cash-in the learning from experience,” summed up Stella.

The need of the hour for McLaren was having two drivers keeping each other honest. Even though Piastri is still on the learning scale, he has been up there with his experienced teammate Norris which is a good sign for the future when the car is winning races.

Norris has been exceptional all-through his McLaren time and Piastri is getting there. “One is that Lando is definitely evolving towards more of a leading position,” said Stella. “Not a leading position as the leading driver, but just drivers that kind of try to pull the team, just not only being on the receiving end of it.

“And the second point is that by having a driver as quick as Oscar, definitely you are in the condition to exploit the potential of the car better, because in some corners, even in FP1 Oscar is immediately competitive if not a little quicker, so Lando can say ‘OK, we can do this in this corner’, and so on. And likewise, obviously, for Oscar with Lando.

“The second element, which is remarkable this year, is how similar the comments are between the two drivers. And this is not only in the offline debriefings, but it’s also when the drivers come back after they run the first run during a session.

“They actually use the same terminology, like it looks like they are in communication before reporting their feedback. This is obviously very important for engineers, because it means that what’s coming from the driver is very consistent, is very clear, it gives you a clear direction for set-up and for development,” summed up Stella.

Here’s Andrea Stella on Spa’s result

Here’s McLaren testing at Spa

Here’s Lando Norris being surprised by Top 10 result