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Brown: Piastri will be on the same pace as Norris at McLaren

McLaren CEO Zak Brown thinks his rookie Formula 1 driver Oscar Piastri "will be on the same pace" as the more experienced Lando Norris after impressing on his first F1 appearances.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, leads Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

After an intriguing silly season saga last summer Brown snapped up 2021 Formula 2 champion Piastri to replace fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who had struggled to match Norris in his two challenging years with the team.

While Piastri was a highly regarded prospect in the paddock, the decision still carried some risk as the 21-year-old had not even tested for the team before being signed.

F1's first two races hadn't yet offered a clean head-to-head comparison between Piastri and Norris because of disrupted weekends for both drivers, while at Piastri's home race he was outqualified by Norris when he was dumped out in Q1 by just 0.046s.

But according to Brown early indications point to Piastri being on Norris' pace as intended.

"What we want to have is two drivers that are pushing each other and I think early indications are that Oscar will be on the same pace as Lando and the two of them will push each other hard," Brown said.

"That's what you want out of your two drivers, to know that it's kind of down to you as a team to provide them with a car to get to the front.

"I'm confident when you look down the list of things you need to have a winning team, having two grand prix drivers is critically important and I think we've got that."

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Despite his lack of experience Piastri has impressed Brown with his level of focus.

The additional attention around the Melbourne local's home race - especially now he is taking over the baton from the ultra-popular Ricciardo as Australia's lone representative - hasn't distracted him from the job at hand.

"He's a very mature 21-year-old, very focused," Brown said.

"You kind of wouldn’t know it's his home grand prix from his perspective. You can clearly tell around the track that there's an Oscar-mania if you like, but he's very focused, head down.

"You can't really tell the difference between him here or Saudi or Bahrain and I think that's what's going to make him a really good grand prix driver, his focus and his calmness."

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