McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has heaped praise on rookie Oscar Piastri by claiming his “rate of learning is remarkable”, despite a tough weekend in the United States.

Piastri was a victim of the Sprint format in Austin, with Friday’s poor showing in qualifying leaving him at the mercy of the midfield chaos at the start of Sunday’s grand prix.

An opening lap clash with Esteban Ocon led to an early retirement, following up a pointless 10th-place showing in Saturday’s Sprint race.

But the weekend was a low ebb in what has been a great rookie campaign for the Australian, which has seen him attain multiple podiums and a Sprint victory.

Asked about Piastri on Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas, Stella recognised the newcomer’s immense progress since he arrived at McLaren.

“I think we have said even at events where for reasons like Japan, where he was P2 on the grid, we said the real challenge here is actually the race pace because the race pace is the ability part of the race craft that you can test,” Stella said.

“So you sort of discover in the race and very rapidly you need to understand what’s going on with the tyres, what’s going on with the competition, the race situation, adapt and still be quick.

“That’s normally what comes later in the journey of a rookie. So we are extremely pleased that we are actually ticking the box from a pure speed point of view.

“And we saw that even in the Sprint shootout in Q3, he was actually there with Lando.

A future winning combination? –, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images


“But when it comes to putting laps together, especially in hot and high-tech situations like yesterday, for instance, in the Sprint, that’s where experience is important,” he continued.

“But I would like to highlight that the objective for today was to capitalize on yesterday’s experience in the Sprint, learn from a driving point of view, from a tyre management point of view, what we needed to learn and do better today.

“We are happy that actually we were in a better position today in the first stint and this confirms that the rate of learning is remarkable.”

Although Piastri failed to contribute to the team’s points tally last weekend, Norris’ second-place finish in Sunday’s race elevated McLaren above Aston Martin in the standings.

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