SUZUKA, Japan — Andrea Stella, the principal of the McLaren team, has drawn parallels between Oscar Piastri, an upcoming F1 talent, and the two-time champion Fernando Alonso, as well as the seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. Stella notices similar characteristics in these multiple-time champions and Piastri who is currently in his first season in F1.
In recent developments, Piastri inked an extension in his contract with McLaren this week. This agreement ensures his stay with the team up to the conclusion of 2026. This new sign-up emerges from an intense contractual tussle between McLaren and Alpine, where Piastri had much of his junior career.
Forming this opinion about Piastri’s abilities, Stella relies on his firsthand experience. He had served as an engineer with Schumacher during his stint at Ferrari and Alonso during his time at McLaren and Ferrari. He saw in Piastri a likeness to these stalwarts, along with the inherent speed required to flourish in top-tier F1.
Stella explained, “We saw the qualities at the attitudinal level, and these qualities have to do with being able to continuously improve. You may be as talented as I’m saying [he is], but there are a lot of people that were talented but didn’t lead anywhere because there was no attitude to continuous improvements.”
Stella continued, touching on the point that Piastri’s relentless drive for improvement reminded him of Alonso’s approach. He also stressed that besides racing prowess, the personality behind the driver is important for the team. He emphasized that Piastri’s personality was not only in tune with the team’s values and culture but was further enriching it.
Stella shared that Piastri’s values reminded him of Schumacher, whom an experienced team member described as a great team-builder on and off the track, fostering a familial spirit among the team members. Stella associated these attributes of natural talent, continuous improvement, and values with Piastri, and that prompted the early conversation for a contract extension.
Although Piastri’s existing contract with McLaren had a year left, the 21-year-old’s long-term commitment was seen by Stella as an enabler to realize the full potential of the rapport between the racer and the team. “It is a new contract because it became very apparent for us that we wanted to secure this prospect and we wanted to realise the full extent of the collaboration,” Stella explained.
He further mentioned that the mutual recognition between Piastri and the McLaren team about the potential of their collaboration was established quite early, forming the basis for the extension. Stella concluded, “The announcement comes now but actually the agreement was found pretty early on because what we needed to assess became clear and apparent to us very soon. I’m happy to say that the same was on Oscar’s side.”