After winning the 2021 Formula 2 Driver’s World Championship, Oscar Piastri had to wait a year on the sidelines before securing his maiden F1 drive.
It was an unusual path, considering the recent history of F2 winners. Piastri became just the second champion in the last seven years to not be instantly rewarded with an F1 seat.
Oscar Piastri: One of the most successful juniors we’ve ever seen
Aussie Oscar has had one of the most successful junior careers in the sport’s history, becoming a champion in Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2 — all in consecutive years.
Winning the Formula Renault championship alone put Piastri in good company, with current F1 drivers like Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas all taking out the junior title before going on to have storied F1 careers.
Only George Russell and Charles Leclerc had won F3 and F2 in consecutive years. Piastri became the first to win all three junior categories.
Russell and Leclerc have of course had great success in their young careers so far; widely considered to be two of the best drivers in the world.
Piastri joining this elite club gives him a massive edge, as he breaks through at Formula 1 level; history is firmly on his side. And yet even neither of the other two drivers had signed for such an established team when joining F1.
Leclerc inked with Sauber in 2018, in a car that was slightly above average but struggled to keep up with the heavyweights towards the front of the field. Russell joined Williams in 2019 in what was undoubtedly the slowest car on the grid for the next couple of seasons, waiting nearly two years to score a point.
Both drivers were signed to contracts with Ferrari and Mercedes’ driver academies respectively and were essentially forced into those teams.
When Piastri opted for McLaren
Piastri, meanwhile, was widely expected to fill the vacant seat at Alpine, a team for whom he had driven for the majority of his junior career. However, Piastri shocked everyone when he took up a deal with McLaren; a move that seemed a solid decision, but one that definitely caught Alpine off guard.
And having now secured a podium finish, Piastri’s timeline is looking aggressive, but already paying dividends.
Alonso leaving for Aston Martin gave Alpine the perfect scenario to keep their young driver with them long-term, but it seemed like that ship had firmly sailed and Piastri did what was best for him.
Upon reflection, the internal problems at Alpine seemingly cost them from becoming a real contender.
McLaren finished fourth in the 2021 constructors’ championship, while a third place finish in 2020 proved they’ are’d transitioned into an F1 force not to be taken lightly. And there’s no disputing that Piastri now has drivers and teams looking over their shoulders; if they’re not already in the young Aussie’s rearview mirror.
With Lando Norris continually putting McLaren in the points, in a car that struggled for the majority of 2022, Piastri is proving this season he can do the same.
Piastri’s wealth of winning experience in the junior categories gives him an instant advantage at McLaren. The sky truly is the limit for the Australian driver.