Mark Webber goes behind the scenes on the thought process with regards to Oscar Piastri signing with McLaren from Alpine.
Even though Webber has left for F1 for years now, he has been around as a commentator but last year, it was more than that. He was in the think of things with regards to the silly season and was involved in a controversial driver switches in recent times.
It even led to a court situation after Alpine pressed on to understand the authenticity of Piastri’s move to McLaren. Eventually, it was ruled in favour of the Australian and Webber breathed a sigh of relief by getting him a F1 seat for 2023 after missing out in 2022.
Looking back at that time, Webber elaborated on how difficult the situation was with court being involved but noted that Piastri was pretty relaxed despite the trouble around him. “He was pretty relaxed, actually,” said the nine-time F1 race winner of his countryman on Speedcafe’s KTM Summer Grill.
“Of course, he was, ironically, showing as much loyalty as you could do under the circumstances because he was waiting for answers and he was the one that was the most loyal out of the whole situation. All the other shareholders and people who have been there since he was eight years old were certainly a lot less patient, but Oscar was keen to be as loyal as possible.
“It still was pretty challenging, what the future was looking like, but then obviously McLaren said they wanted to make a change and whether that was Oscar or whoever it was. That was the funny thing, we could have no Aussies on the grid this year; who knows?
“Anyway, Oscar was available, and that’s something we had to move pretty quick on, and it in the end, they were prepared to take a huge risk on Oscar, which was tremendous, which they have done with Lando, which they have done to a degree with Carlos – obviously he’d been at AlphaTauri – and obviously Lewis under Ron Dennis.
“So, McLaren have had form of not farming their drivers out, and that was a great opportunity for Oscar to get going,” summed Webber, who added that the feeling of being wanted made the difference at McLaren and that they are mindful of the challenges that Piastri has replacing someone like Daniel Ricciardo.
“It was just that they wanted him; that’s the first thing,” said Webber. “That makes a pretty big difference. It’s important to be wanted and be pretty clear and open with what the plan is. And of course, he was mindful of replacing Daniel, absolutely he was, and he knows that if it wasn’t him, it could have been someone else.
“He knows he should have been racing in 2022; that’s the big killer here. He did some testing but racing drivers want to race and that was hurting Oscar. He’s behind the eight-ball this year, having a year out; that’s just the way it is,” summed up Webber
Here’s Mick Schumacher joining McLaren as reserve
Here’s Oscar Piastri on relationship with Lando Norris
Here’s Andreas Seidl on McLaren to expect a hard time in 2023
Here’s Andrea Stella on his approach as team principal
Here’s McLaren not surprised by pecking order in 2022
Here’s Lando Norris on McLaren situation