After finding himself in the middle of a tug-of-war battle between Alpine and McLaren, Oscar Piastri has had a stellar start to his Formula 1 career in the papaya orange outfit of McLaren. While the start of the season kicked off rather unceremoniously, the British team based in Woking, Surrey, England have been working hard on bringing upgrades to the 2023 competitor, the MCL60 — and now they've got a car that can compete at the top end of town.
After narrowly missing out on his first podium in F1 at Silverstone, Piastri's time to step on the podium came at the Japanese Grand Prix after a P3 finish. This weekend, he's taken another huge step in his career, taking out first place in Saturday's sprint race in Qatar and a career-best P2 finish in the GP on Sunday. Many are now likening Piastri's rookie performance to that of seven-time WDC, Sir Lewis Hamilton.
While Lewis' first year in 2007 might be the greatest debut season ever, finishing just one-point shy of the WDC to everyone's favourite iceman, Kimi Räikkönen and outplacing teammate Fernando Alonso, Oscar is surely making a case for the best rookie season since then.
Of course, other names can be thrown in the mix. Max Verstappen's first season in 2015 would have to be up there, but the rookie Dutchman's 2015 Scuderia Toro Rosso machinery was only able to finish at a season best 4th place (twice), before moving to the Red Bull team midway through 2016. Max managed to win his first race with the Red Bull team at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver ever to win a Grand Prix at the age of 18 years and 227 days.
Seb Vettel's first full time season in 2008 started off rather poorly, but shined at the fifth race of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix, finishing P5 after started P17. While he drove in '07 from the Hungarian GP onwards (11th race of the season), Vettel's first full-time crack also deserves praise after scoring a tremendous victory at the wet Italian Grand Prix in the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso, finishing 12.5 seconds ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovaleinen. This was the Red Bull outfits first Grand Prix win across both teams.
In a season with what is statistically the most dominat car and driver combination in the sports history, fighting for a championship would be near impossible. However, Oscar's shown moments of brilliance in his battles up and down the field, and is now being rewarded with praise from Motorsport pundits and fans across the globe — and his first Formula 1 race win.
While the next step will be a Grand Prix victory, Oscar is definitely putting on a stellar performance for his first season in the sport. Sure, he still sits below his teammate Norris in the World Drivers Championship points tally, but his level-headedness, talent and raw pace is making a case for what I reckon is the best a rookie has driven since LH in '07.
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