LANDO NORRIS and Daniel Ricciardo will have a new challenger for Formula One’s joker’s crown if Oscar Piastri has his way.
The lively Aussie is preparing for a debut season in the F2 championship off the back of consecutive titles in the Formula Renault and F3 series.
And fans online have instantly taken to 19-year-old Piastri’s self-deprecating social media antics.
With F1 plotting its way as a more fan-friendly sport, Piastri believes drivers with comic timing are vital to motorsport’s personality.
He told SunSport: “I think in terms of my own social media that’s just how I am. Most of my tweets that got likes was when something was humorously going wrong.
“They were fun to write but they were somewhat for my own sanity and also there’s no point in getting bogged down in negative stuff.
“If you can take any kind of positive spin, whether that’s getting 5,000 likes on Twitter or whatever, that’s always going to be a positive.
“I think we all know Lando [Norris] is a pretty funny character and he is very personable and quite jokey.
“I think he said that maybe he should be a bit more serious but in F1 there is definitely no harm in having those personalities on the grid. That’s certainly why fans gravitate towards certain drivers.
“Daniel Ricciardo is a perfect example of that as well, F1 would probably be a bit less happy and smiley place without him, so it’s certainly a good thing.”
Piastri has taken a couple of tips from Mick Schumacher since inheriting the German prodigy’s Prema seat for the season ahead.
Already involved in an F1 Young Drivers’ test, the Melbourne native is very highly rated and yet was not afraid to rue his at-times bad luck on course to winning last year’s F3 title.
Looking back over last season, he analysed: “My racecraft was something that carried me through, my qualifying performances were not amazing. I generally made life a bit more difficult for myself in the races.
“Also keeping a calm head and keeping my confidence in myself, I knew I could still go out and win races even if I wasn’t on pole.
“We had a few mechanical issues, it was getting a bit challenging. Being mentally resilient was a massive part of it.”
Schooled in the UK throughout his teens, Piastri describes the ‘big sacrifice’ he took after leaving home to pursue his dream.
He began his career as just a young lad in remote control car racing, taking any opportunity to step up before moving to Europe.
He added: “I raced remote control cars from when I was about six, my dad’s business is a car tuning business anyway so motorsport has run in the family for a while.
“He came back from a business trip in America with a remote control monster truck and I started driving that around, he asked if I wanted to start racing it.
Setting myself a target of winning the championship is ambitious. It’s not impossible but it’s certainly not going to be easy.
“We did that for a few years and it was pretty cool, then we went into electric on-road stuff, then we met someone who was in go-karts and that kicked it all off.”
Piastri is signed to the Renault Sport Academy ahead of the French marque’s conversion to Alpine for Fernando Alonso’s arrival in 2021.
A move into F1 is undoubtedly on the agenda but the ambitious youngster is well aware of the steep learning curve ahead of him.
He continued: “Coming off the back of an F3 championship is very beneficial for a lot of things; my CV, my confidence.
“I’m not expecting it to be easy by any stretch of the imagination – setting myself a target of winning the championship is ambitious. I don’t think it’s impossible but it’s certainly not going to be easy.
“It’s very rare for someone to win F2 at their first attempt, so I’m keeping my expectations in check. But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be confident.”
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With a title in two years 'realistic and achievable’, Piastri notes that he had the same plan in F3 before swooping to first place in his rookie year.
If that achievement is anything to go by, F1 fans may have yet another rocket-fast joker to add to their follows.
Looking ahead to the new season, Piastri summarised: “I just like racing and driving fast cars so for me that’s plenty motivation and excitement.”
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