A respected Formula 1 watcher believes that the fact that Oscar Piastri’s resounding success in the junior categories was achieved with Prema leaves some doubt about his true potential.
Piastri will make his F1 debut in 2023 after being signed by McLaren to replace fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who was let go by the team after two disappointing seasons alongside Lando Norris.
The former Alpine protege became 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 principal Peter Windsor warned that the reputation of the Prema team in junior racing is so good that drivers may have to look above their natural level.
Speaking via his Twitch stream, he said: “I guess we must all be excited about Oscar Piastri, purely because of what he has achieved in Formula 3 and Formula 2.
“He achieved that with Prema, so you always have to have a little thing there – ‘made with Prema’ as opposed to ‘made with MP Motorsport or DAMS or Carlin’ because Prema is so good.
“If you are the number one driver chosen at Prema, it’s a good race.
“So that’s the first thing and secondly he had the audacity to turn down a full race in Formula 1 Alpine. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s what he did and if you do that, you have enormous self-confidence.
“And so he is now in a McLaren and, alongside Lando Norris, I will be fascinated to see how he is.”
Five headlines from Fred Vasseur’s first press briefing as Ferrari team boss
Top 10 greatest Formula 1 seasons that will end in championship heartbreak
Michael Schumacher’s 10 Iconic Formula 1 Grand Prix Victories
Windsor has drawn comparisons between Piastri’s journey to an F1 seat and that of Ayrton Senna, revealing 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 throughout that weekend – I even drove with him from the track one day, hung out with him – and he was just brilliant.
“He was absolutely perfect in everything he did: the setup of the Toleman; whenever there was a problem with the car he was patient, he was calm, he helped the mechanics and he got exactly the right lap time and the right performance of the car considering where he was Toleman on the grid. He was brilliant.
“So I have to say that’s the level of expectation from Piastri because here is a guy who said no to Alpine and he’s leaving with McLaren.
“It’s sort of a counterpoint to Ayrton 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 somewhere else, whereas Piastri doesn’t does not.
“Had he entered as a rookie driver alongside Esteban Ocon at Alpine, there is a little less focus on him and a little less pressure than he has now at McLaren, where he is. up there alongside Lando Norris who turned down Alpine.
“So he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself, which Ayrton Senna never did. But assuming he’s the next Ayrton Senna, which a lot of people are telling us, then it’s going to be interesting to see how he goes.
“And it’s interesting how Lando handles that as well, really interesting.
“Personally I think Lando is exceptionally good and I think he won’t have any problems with Piastri, but considering everything that’s happened in the last nine months with Piastri, you have to say that this guy is incredibly confident and his own ability to get in there and be an Ayrton Senna because he turned down Alpine.