McLaren's 2023 driver Oscar Piastri says there is no extra pressure on him this year as he makes his F1 debut following a controversial exit from Alpine.
Piastri came through Alpine's driver academy, and following his 2021 Formula 2 championship win, the Australian served as Alpine's test and reserve driver for 2022.
When it was revealed that incumbent Fernando Alonso would be leaving Alpine for Aston Martin in 2023, the French squad moved swiftly to announce Piastri as his replacement.
However, Piastri quickly took to social media to deny that he had signed a race deal with Alpine, and said he would not be driving for Team Enstone in 2023.
The dispute ended up in front of F1's Contract Recognition Board, which ruled that Piastri was free to race for McLaren, having never held a contract with Alpine for 2023.
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Speaking at the launch of McLaren's 2023 car, the MCL60, Piastri denied that the controversial manner of his Alpine exit places added pressure on him to perform in his rookie year.
"I don't think it adds any pressure from that aspect," Piastri told media including RacingNews365.com when asked if that was the case.
"I think coming into F1 with the previous results I've had in junior categories, I think there's always going to be an element of expectation from that. And I think whilst the drama created a lot of attention, it has nothing to do with my driving.
"So I think the results are more of an area of expectation to come from, I guess, so I don't think that specifically adds anything."
Having not raced competitively since 2021, the Australian added that there may be a little rustiness to shake off as he embarks on his maiden F1 campaign.
"I'm just trying to get back up to speed, and obviously, there'll be a bit of rust having not raced for a year.
"There are some things without racing that you just can't keep training. That's why I'm looking forward to getting back out on track."
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