Oscar Piastri says Daniel Ricciardo earned further respect and helped him feel better about his future with McLaren by messaging him after his contract was confirmed.
McLaren moved to replace Ricciardo with Piastri this summer after two tough seasons with the eight-time grand prix winner, but despite confirming Ricciardo’s departure, the team had to wait on a hearing that also involved Alpine regarding Piastri’s future. With one Australian replacing another at McLaren, Piastri admits he was anxious about the situation but was put at ease by Ricciardo sending him a message.
“That was a really great thing for Daniel to get in touch,” Piastri told the Australian Grand Prix podcast ‘In the Fast Lane’. “I was planning on getting in touch myself, but with the timing of things, he was at a race and quite frankly I didn’t actually know if he wanted to hear from me. I was trying to think of what to say, but he beat me to it.
“That was a true professional. My respect for him was already extremely high and it’s only gotten higher in the way he’s responded. Him getting in touch like that was great for me personally, knowing that there were no hard feelings. That really helped me quite a lot, so it was good to get in touch and it was a nice moment.
“It is a bit of a sliding doors moment, but I think if I can get close to emulating the success he’s had on track and the character he is off the track, I think I’ll be doing a reasonable job.”
Piastri will be paired with Lando Norris next year and admits they have had little interaction up to this point, but he believes they’re well-matched to form a strong partnership at McLaren.
“Firstly, I don’t know Lando that well,” Piastri said. “I’ve spoken to him a couple of times very briefly and we’ve got a few mutual friends in common, but I’m looking forward to getting to know him both personally and professionally.
“Our junior careers have been quite similar. He’s obviously proven in F1 that he’s a very capable driver and a strong driver as well, so I’m looking forward to being able to show what I have, but there’s also undoubtedly going to be things to learn along the way and I think Lando’s a very strong teammate to be able to learn from.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a good working relationship. We’re both quite similar in age, we’ve got a few friends in common like I said, so I’m confident we’ll be able to work well together and hopefully bring the whole team more towards the front of the grid because that’s the aim.”