Oscar Piastri believes his rookie F1 campaign has now become something “pretty remarkable” where once hopes of success were nothing more than just “a distant dream”.
McLaren's stunning U-turn in form is now well-documented, starting off the season miserably as it openly conceded to lagging behind in terms of its development, before producing an upgrade that thrust it into the top three.
Team-mate Lando Norris finished runner-up in both Austria and Britain, scoring back-to-back podiums for the first time in his F1 career, before Piastri qualified and finished a superb second in the Belgian Grand Prix sprint event.
A first-corner collision with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz wrecked his hopes in the main race, whilst Norris started and finished seventh due to difficulties on the tyres in the first two stints, and the rear wing on his MCL60 being far from optimal for the conditions.
Despite the lap-one retirement at Spa-Francorchamps, Norris is still amazed at how McLaren has turned the formbook upside down, and he has a top-three finish in a race – albeit the shortened version – going into the summer break.
Asked how he would have felt if someone had told him before the start of the season he would clinch a ‘podium', he replied: “I would have been very happy.
“Before the season, maybe we thought that could be possible, in the right circumstances with maybe a few cars not finishing.
“Once we got the season underway, it was a pretty distant dream that we'd be able to compete for the top three, but to be there, consistently for the last three weekends, is pretty remarkable.
“It's been amazing for me, of course. It's always a nice motivation when you know you can do a good job.”
The 22-year-old Australian, however, appreciates one decent result is just a small step on the journey he has only just started with McLaren, and that he needs to continue to prove himself.
“The car is there to finish in the top three, but I don't think it changes too much of what I'm trying to do myself,” added Piastri.
“I'm always trying to get the most out of myself, and I still have plenty to learn, just getting back up to speed with some things still, so from that aspect, it doesn't change too much.”
Piastri concedes his improvement so far over the course of the campaign has not been “particularly linear”.
The Melburnian feels the British GP was his best so far, whilst the following race in Hungary “there were still a few things that I needed to learn and work on”.
Whilst Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps was “quite strong”, according to Piastri, he felt there was still “a bit left on the table”, a remarkable statement when you consider he only finished 0.011s behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the sprint shootout.
“So, it's not always linear, especially in the conditions we had over the weekend,” said Piastri. “It's so easy to always want more and more, and then you find yourself in the wall. I've got to keep my expectations in check.
“I feel like, in a general trend, it's going in the right direction. I'm getting more and more comfortable with the car.
“Of course, the car is much, much better now than it was at the start of the year, which helps, with just the feeling of the car, but also knowing that if you do a good job, you can fight for the top three.
“So I feel like it's going in the right direction. There'll be ups and downs I'm sure but, hopefully, it's more ups.”