Ex-Formula 1 race winner Mark Webber says Oscar Piastri intends to “keep getting better” despite an “extraordinary few weeks” for his driver and the McLaren team.

Piastri is currently embarking upon his rookie campaign in F1, having been the subject of a controversial silly season this time last year that saw him reject a seat at Alpine in favour of replacing Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.

After a slow start to the year, McLaren’s introduction of a revised car last month has provided a drastic upturn in fortunes, with Lando Norris scoring successive podium finishes in Britain and Hungary.

Meanwhile, Piastri classified fourth at Silverstone, before qualifying on the front row for the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint Race and converting that to a second-place finish.

Webber, who has managed Piastri’s career since early 2020, has lavished praise on the young Australian’s recent form, highlighting the impressiveness of his swift adaptation after spending last year on the sidelines.

“I think it’s been an extraordinary few weeks for the whole team,” Webber told F1. “The bar has been accelerated to a very high level, very fast within the group – we shouldn’t be shy about that.

“I think it’s still so easy to forget that Oscar didn’t race last year. I think the start of the year it does take time. It’s his first time in F1, it’s not like he’s returning from a break… He’s been away 15 months and has never raced in F1.

“Lando has been exceptional, Lando’s top drawer, we know that, and Oscar has just held himself in such… Of course, we’re all very proud of him.”

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. 29.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Sprint Day.

Although Piastri has received plenty of plaudits recently for his meteoric rise, Webber asserts the 22-year-old will be striving to improve further throughout the remainder of his maiden campaign.

“He’s had a phenomenal, phenomenal entry in his first year,” the nine-time F1 race winner added. “But being Oscar, he will continue to work on where he can improve and keep getting better.”

As well as defeating Norris on Sprint Saturday, Piastri also convincingly had the edge on the highly-rated Briton throughout qualifying on Friday evening.

However, Piastri’s race came to an end only one lap into proceedings following an incident at the start with Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari through the La Source hairpin. 

It marked an unfortunate conclusion to the first half of Piastri’s debut F1 season, leaving him three positions and 35 points behind Norris, who rescued a sixth-place finish for McLaren at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Nevertheless, Norris has hailed Piastri for helping to raise the bar at McLaren, while Team Principal Andrea Stella has also credited the newcomer for his early exploits.

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