Piastri’s McLaren F1 Bracket: What we learned and what comes next

The most talked about driver outside the Formula 1 grid 2022 finally made his long-awaited official debut for McLaren in Abu Dhabi post-season testing.

Oscar Biastri was at the center of a contract dispute that occupied the majority of Oxygen during the F1 summer break, and things got ugly at times – including Alpine team boss Otmar Zaffauer questioning Biastri’s “integrity” and the dispute moved to the F1 Contracts Recognition Committee.

But all parties involved became eager to move on when it became clear there was nothing stopping Piastri from racing for McLaren in 2023.

Piastri was able to officially start his new life with McLaren in Abu Dhabi post-season testing, but his fresh start had already begun with a test in Paul Ricard’s 2021 McLaren before the final two races of the 2022 season.

Testing of the 2021 car with McLaren’s TPC team has been completed, so the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Bastry’s first chance to work with McLaren’s race mechanics and engineers on the track.

Piastri completed 123 laps on Tuesday and posted the #14 fastest time, more than half a second faster than teammate Lando Norris’ best.

“That’s one of the keys to today,” Piastri said when asked by The Race about the importance of integrating with the race team.

“In terms of laptops, it doesn’t make sense because you never know what other people are doing. This isn’t the first port of call in the day, [it’s] Get to know our engineers, mechanics and everyone on the team.

“There are a lot of new names to learn and that’s up there with one of the most important things today especially good communication with our engineers on the team in particular.

“Learning how we get feedback and what we want to tweak, getting to know each other. That’s 100% what today is about.”

Piastri officially became a McLaren driver on Monday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and is now completely free to work with his employer for 2023.

He’ll have his “official introduction” at the McLaren factory next week, then start a simulated work program and continue to develop relationships with his team – and he could also take more outings in the 2021 team car.

Piastri’s effective ‘early’ launch from Alpine gives him a head start in life at McLaren, rather than the January 1 start date that has sometimes been the norm in F1.

“Driving the car today was the most positive thing, and obviously you can’t substitute anything for lap time,” said Piastri.

“So I think having the day in particular was really important, it’s really positive.

Formula 1 motor racing test Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“And then I work on the peripherals and get to know my engineers better and everyone on the team better, and if there are some things I want to change for next year, I can talk to people about that.

“I’m very much looking forward to being able to design some of my own little things if I want to, all this kind of background stuff that can’t necessarily be seen, that’s all the stuff I can work on in the next six weeks.”

As a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo, Piastri hopes he can adapt the characteristics of the McLaren Formula 1 car that Ricciardo never filled.

“It is difficult to say whether it is a feature of McLaren or 2022 [regulations] It’s special, so I don’t know if I would put it in the McLaren’s signature basket,” Piastri said when asked if he feels the McLaren’s unique character.

“Maybe there are some little things that are a little different but again, this is just my first day and I’m still fine and getting up to speed.

“I think I learned a lot today but there is still a lot to learn. It’s still too early to do this genre [judgement]. ”

On Tuesday he offered Piastri his first chance to closely monitor the way Norris – the team’s clear leader for the past two years – has been driving McLaren.

Formula 1 motor racing test Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“I was definitely able to get a glimpse of how he drives the car, he’s got it working really well this year so it was nice to get the first reference of how Lando drives the car,” he explained.

“Seeing what he’s doing differently and the same in some places. It was nice to get that reference.”

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