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Hill: Piastri will avoid snowball effect that hit Mick Schumacher in F1

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri is unlikely to face the “massive snowball effect” that sapped Mick Schumacher’s confidence and led to the Haas Formula 1 team dropping him, reckons Damon Hill.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Unreliability and damage for both Piastri and team-mate Lando Norris in the opening two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have left McLaren bottom of the constructors’ championship and without a point.

Despite this poor opening, 1996 F1 world title winner Hill reckons rookie Piastri will not need to worry about a bad run sapping his confidence, even if the Australian is yet to deliver a standout performance to mark his arrival in the top flight like Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Max Verstappen did.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport, Hill - who will provide commentary for the Australian Grand Prix to the Ten Network - said: “If you get off to a shaky start, it can take all season to get that back again. People are very quick to judge and look for the signs.

“The great drivers came into Formula 1 with a bang. They arrived. Michael Schumacher, Max Verstappen, Ayrton Senna, they came in and everyone went, 'Wow where did that come from? Who is this guy?'.

“I wouldn't say Oscar has had the opportunity to do quite that, but he has definitely looked very competent and solid.

“He's not someone who you go, 'Oh my God, he looks a bit shaky'.”

Michael Schumacher turned heads on his F1 debut at Spa in 1991

Michael Schumacher turned heads on his F1 debut at Spa in 1991

Photo by: Sutton Images

Ex-Williams driver Hill contrasted Piastri with Mick Schumacher, the son of his great rival Michael.

The German is currently at Mercedes as reserve driver, having been released by Haas after two seasons. His 2022 was blighted by car-snapping crashes that forced the American squad to abandon upgrades.

Hill continued: “Mick Schumacher never really put in one of those sit-up-and-take-notice performances and struggled to inspire the confidence people need to have in the driver.

“Before you know it, it becomes a massive snowball effect where the snowball gets heavier and heavier and you get crushed by it.

“So far for Oscar, he's not got that problem to think about. He's got a very firm footing from which to push off.”

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Hill, a winner of 22 grands prix, added that Piastri’s early performances indicated a strong season was in the offing. But he expects stablemate and de facto benchmark Norris to improve as he gets “warmed up”.

“Oscar has come in bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and looking confident and very much at home in Formula 1,” said Hill. “He's already put in some impressive performances. It bodes well for the rest of the season.

“I'm sure when Lando gets warmed up, he'll be a tougher nut to crack, but [Oscar] will learn a lot.

“Coming to Melbourne [home race], he'll be getting a lot of attention, and it's about whether that distracts him.

“But he doesn't strike me as the sort of person who is easily distracted or interested in the peripheral stuff that happens in Formula 1. He seems to be a very keen and focused racer.”

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