RACE DEBRIEF

    McLaren’s line-up for the upcoming season has stoked the excitement of the racing team’s CEO, Zak Brown, who believes Oscar Piastri is going to be “sensational” and Lando Norris is “getting better and better”.

    Having parted ways with Daniel Ricciardo at the end of 2022, McLaren chose to replace him with fellow Australian Piastri – the 2021 Formula 2 Champion and former Alpine reserve driver – for 2023. Team Principal Andreas Seidl has also departed to become Sauber’s Chief Executive Officer while Andrea Stella has stepped up to Seidl’s former role.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo reveals surprising talks with one team over his future – and why he turned down a race seat chance for 2023

    In an in-depth interview on McLaren’s official website, Brown sung the praises of Norris, who scored the only podium for a non-Red Bull/Ferrari/Mercedes driver in 2022 and will continue for a fifth season with McLaren this year.

    “He’s just getting better and better,” said Brown. “He puts together some amazing qualifying laps. I don’t think he probably gets enough credit for how awesome he can be when it’s time to saddle up.

    “You know, we’ll be in Free Practice 3 and then bang, there it comes in qualifying when he needs to do it in Q3, and [it’s like:] ‘Wow, where’d that come from?’. And he does that often.

    1418238911
    Zak Brown became McLaren Racing's CEO in the winter of 2016

    “He makes very few mistakes, rarely makes a big mistake. So he, if I look at when he started versus now, he’s got a very high level of confidence – but not arrogance – and he’s definitely at one with the team and the racing car… if I look at season one to now, his racecraft is exponentially better.”

    Brown explained that he expects the Piastri-Norris pairing to serve McLaren well in the future after the team’s new Australian recruit won the FIA Formula 3 and 2 Championships in his debut seasons.

    READ MORE: ‘He’s a very strong team mate to learn from’ – Piastri excited to work with Norris at McLaren

    “We think Oscar is going to be a sensational racing driver. If you look at his career to date, he’s won a lot of championships in his first year, which always tells you a driver’s special, you know, he’s got a great mental approach to the sport and now that we feel that Lando has a lot of experience, we feel like we have a great blend of experience and youth,” said Brown.

    “Our experience just also happens to have youth. So, I think we sit here very excited with the potential of our driver line-up of Lando and Oscar for the foreseeable future.”

    McLaren will launch their 2023 Formula 1 car on February 13 as they hope to make gains after Ricciardo and Norris took the team to P5 in the championship in 2022.