The “very important” Piastri test is one of McLaren’s highlights

Oscar Piastri made his official debut with McLaren, ahead of his “very important” first run with the team in the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 test on Tuesday.

Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in 2023, but for some time it looked like the team would need to wait to catch him.

That’s because Piastri was moving from the Alpine region, which reacted badly to Piastri’s decision to leave and seemed to be playing hard to get him released.

However, an agreement was finally reached that allowed Bastry to drive the 2021 McLaren in a private test earlier this month, and officially join the team the day after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Starting at McLaren on Monday instead of January 1, 2023 won’t cut or cut Piastri’s time with the team, but that’s certainly a better situation.

After McLaren discovered that Ricciardo’s experience and quality were incompatible with both of the McLaren cars he drove, McLaren paid off his contract a year early in order to sign a driver with whom he had no experience.

Fia Formula 2 Motor Racing Championship, Saturday, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Piastri has impressed McLaren with back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles, and has racked up more than 3,000 kilometers of testing in vintage Alpine machines.

So, he’s about as highly rated a rookie as you’ll find, plus he has more experience than most modern-day F2 graduates. But none of those experiences have been with McLaren – yet.

The private test, at Paul Ricard’s, was McLaren’s first opportunity to properly assess Piastri, but the team refused to read too much into it, stressing that it was a way to start building McLaren’s working relationship as well as allow Piastri to start learning the team’s systems. and actions.

He will work with the race crew planned for 2023 – which is Ricciardo’s team from this year – and run an intense program that includes long distance and performance work.

But team principal Andreas Seidl described it as a good start and the biggest benefit will come in Tuesday’s Abu Dhabi test, where Piastri will be able to drive the team’s 2022 car and 2023 Pirelli tyres, and get a small head start on things like that. as his sitting position.

“Obviously it’s a very important test for us to get a first read on Oscar’s part and also on our car and give him a first feel,” said Seidl.

So this is the starting point to make sure we prepare it for Bahrain next year.

Formula 1 motor racing test Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“We want to try as hard as we can with Oscar, so the first race next year doesn’t feel like his first Formula 1 race.”

In addition, unlike his private testing, there will be other cars running in Abu Dhabi, and while similar comparisons will be nearly impossible, McLaren will still be able to begin to draw some more important conclusions.

It’s not a game-changer, but in the era of wildly restricted testing, F1 rookies have a hard time. That’s why McLaren is still considering giving Piastri extra time for the 2021 car between the Abu Dhabi race and the 2023 test, which starts in Bahrain next February.

Anything marked on the to-do list now is buying back precious hours and kilometers of running in a very limited period leading up to the 2023 season.

“I would say if he can’t do this test, it’s not the end of the world,” Seidl said.

“I’m sure we’ll also look into giving him some miles in the old car again in January and February.

“Simply to make sure he gets as accustomed to the Formula 1 machines as possible with all the restrictions you have at present in terms of testing.

“But of course, it’s a good opportunity for him to read the characteristics of our car.

Formula 1 World Championship. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice day, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“Regardless of the car, it’s also a good opportunity to work for the first time in the full racing environment with us, get a feel for how we communicate, get a feel for all our actions, and the sounds he’ll also hear on the radio.

“So it’s clearly a great opportunity.”

Ultimately, McLaren’s goal is for Piastri to come to the inaugural race next year and not feel like his first in Formula 1.

This is still a challenge, and it is not fully achievable. But it is a target that McLaren and Bestre have begun to tackle almost two months earlier than they originally expected.

“We know exactly which boxes to tick,” Seidel said.

“Oscar is a very talented driver, a great person too, and a great personality.

“So, we look forward to moving forward with him.”

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