McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri says he's happy to have former F1 driver Mark Webber by his side and working "behind the scenes" during his "whirlwind" maiden season in Formula 1.
Webber has been closely associated with Piastri since 2020, looking after his fellow Aussie's affairs and mentoring his protégé as he successfully progressed through motorsport's junior ranks.
But the former Red Bull stalwart's savviness came in especially handy last year when Webber negotiated Piastri's move away from Alpine and to McLaren.
The transfer proved controversial, at least for Alpine, while McLaren was more than happy to entrust one of its cars to Piastri on Webber's strong recommendation.
"He’s good," acknowledged Piastri, speaking to Virgin Radio in the UK.
"The first few years we worked together he did a lot behind the scenes for me – he still does a lot behind the scenes for me now.
"Obviously he’s got a wealth of F1 experience, racing experience, and now that I’m in F1 myself, he’s got heaps of ideas and questions.
"At this stage of my career, there’s stuff I’ve not even thought of that he’s asking me, so he’s very, very good behind the scenes, and good at helping me on the track when he can.
"Definitely happy he’s in my corner."
Piastri gradually found his footing in F1, the 22-year-old apprentice steering clear of trouble and learning his trade at his own pace.
He scored his first points at his home race in Melbourne, but McLaren's spectacular progress at the beginning of the summer in the wake of the multiple updates implemented on its MCL60 contender also allowed Piastri to take his skills to the next level.
He enjoyed successive top-five finishes in Britain and in Hungary before claiming P2 behind Max Verstappen in Saturday's Sprint event at Spa.
Race day unfortunately yielded a DNF following a first corner run-in with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, but overall Piastri is so far very satisfied with his opening campaign in F1.
"For me, being my first year, it’s been a whirlwind, a busy first half of the season, so the summer break was a nice little time to reflect," he said.
"We’re doing what we love, what we wanted to do since we were a little kid.
"At the same time we spend pretty much half of our year at a race track, and you’ve got to make sure you’re having fun, otherwise you’re spending six months of every year wondering what you’re doing.
"Loving it, especially as we’re now fighting further at the front as well. It’s a bit more fun when there are some trophies waiting at the end when you get it right.
"We’ve still a few things we want to work on (with the car) but we have a much better baseline for where we want to go in the future now.
"Hopefully we can continue to go forward, fight for some more trophies and have a good second half of the year."