Oscar Piastri believes that McLaren’s remarkable development rate last season proves that the Woking-based outfit is undeniably among Formula 1’s top teams.

McLaren kicked off its 2023 campaign on the back foot with an underdeveloped MCL60 that lagged its direct rivals by a significant margin.

The British outfit rolled out its contender in the midst of an overhaul of its engineering department, but with a plan fomented by team principal Andrea Stella to get back on track at the earliest opportunity.

In Austria in the early summer, McLaren kicked off in earnest a development programme that would not only turned around the team’s fortunes but also carry from the lower tier of F1’s midfield to fourth in the Constructors’ standings by the end of the season.

“How we developed in the second half of last year was pretty remarkable,” commented Piastri, speaking to Australian website Speedcafe.

“I’m not just saying that because I’m a McLaren driver. We saw really, last year, two teams take that kind of step; we saw Aston Martin, from 2022 to 2023 take a monumental step, and then us, pretty much mid-season.

“The fact that we were able to do that was very reassuring that I was in the right place and also, we’re one of the top teams now.”

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Indeed, McLaren’s ability to put itself back on track coupled with the team’s level of performance erased any lingering doubts in Piastri’s mind about choosing McLaren over Alpine as the outfit to oversee his F1 debut.

It was a two-way deal however as McLaren – encouraged by Piastri’s manager, former F1 driver Mark Webber – went out of its way to secure the services of the highly-rated 21-year-old.

The team first released Daniel Ricciardo from his contract, while compensating the Aussie, and then took Piastri’s contract with Alpine to the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board following a legal dispute between the Enstone squad and its former junior driver.

©McLaren

“They’ve given me an opportunity in what was some pretty rough waters, those kinds of things certainly don’t go unnoticed,” acknowledged Piastri.

“I think we are genuinely on the right track to becoming a winning team again.

Team and driver further validated their mutual belief when they agreed and the end of the summer in a multi-year deal that will keep Piastri at Woking until at least the end of 2026.

“It also went both ways,” he said. “It wasn’t simply just me saying, ‘can we sign up for a few more years?’ It was very much a mutual understanding of extending that contract.

“It’s just nice to have that trust and confidence in each other both ways.”

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL38 practices a pit stop. 29.02.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Practice Day - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

Success is never guaranteed in F1. But regardless of what lies on the horizon, Piastri emphasizes the sheer joy and unique opportunity of driving the fastest cars in the world and being paid for the privilege.

Being able to live his dream is enough to keep him pushing forward and motivated every day.

“I’m doing a job that, quite frankly, it’s not a job,” he said. “I get to race cars, and not just any cars, the fastest cars in the world, and get paid for it.

“If you can’t appreciate, you know, how fortunate of a position that is, then I think there’s something wrong with you.

“For me, that is more than enough motivation to be able to do it.

“There are certainly sacrifices along the way, and it doesn’t come without big decisions, definitely, especially coming from Australia, or if you’re coming from the US, from South America, anywhere in Asia, you all have to go to Europe, at some stage to be successful. That’s just how it is.

“We all have our own big decisions but for me, definitely, it’s obviously been paid off and I’m able to do what I want to do in life.

“That’s definitely what gets me out of bed every morning and to continue to keep going.”

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