Former F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone Names Australian Driver As Next World Champion

Bernie Ecclestone has heaped praise on McLaren's Australian driver Oscar Piastri for an incredible debut season... and tipping the young driver as a future World Champion.

Former F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone Names Australian Driver As Next World Champion

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1’s former CEO, has identified McLaren’s young gun, Oscar Piastri, as the driver who impressed him the most during last season and someone who can compete with Max Verstappen in 2024… he’s even tipped the Australian driver as a future World Champion.

Since the late 1970s, Bernie Ecclestone has lived and breathed Formula 1; the British business magnate enjoyed a long – and eventful – tenure as the sport’s CEO, taking over the leadership of Formula 1 Constructors’ Association (FOCA) in 1978. Under his leadership, F1 evolved into one of the most lucrative sports in the world.

Ecclestone reigned for almost 40 years in a tenure that will be remembered as much for its commercial success and its political blunders in equal measure. During that time, Ecclestone oversaw the rise of 18 champions from the driver’s seat to the pinnacle of the sport: Niki Lauda, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna – Bernie applauded them all.

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Image: EPA

After F1 was acquired by Liberty Media in 2017, Ecclestone’s role within the sport has understandably diminished and when the 93-year-old isn’t navigating drawn-out court battles for his various business ventures, the former CEO keeps a keen eye on the developments within Formula 1… and one Australian driver, in particular, has caught his eye.

Following on from his incredible debut season, Oscar Piastri, McLaren’s latest rookie sensation has been improving exponentially within Formula 1.

The Australian driver joined the Papayas under difficult circumstances, with a public dispute over contractual obligations thrusting Piastri into the limelight before even stepping onto the track, but it didn’t take long for Piastri to show everyone what he was capable of.

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Image: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

In his opening 19 races, Piastri finished the race in the Top 3, finding back-to-back podiums at Japan and Qatar to secure much-needed points for his new team… although he probably could’ve added Silverstone last season.

Just six months after making his Formula 1 debut, Piastri’s stellar performances earned the Australian a bumper new deal to extend his contract by a further two years. It was seen as a huge statement of intent by the McLaren hierarchy.

It’s certainly earned the Aussie driver a host of admirers around the paddock, with former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone praising the young star and even tipping him as a future World Champion following his incredible rookie season.

“Young Australian Oscar Piastri, at 22 years old, impresses me the most,” Ecclestone told German newspaper Bild. “He will surely be a champion.”