Piastri’s preparation for F1 debut continues with two-day test in Spain

2023 F1 season

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McLaren are running Oscar Piastri in their 2021 Formula 1 car at the Circuit de Catalunya this week as they prepare him for his world championship debut next year.

It is the third time Piastri has driven for the team since joining them from Alpine, where he was a reserve driver.

Alpine gave Piastri his first experience of contemporary F1 machinery in last year’s official post-season test day. As their junior driver Piastri drove two-year-old F1 cars in private tests from 2020 to halfway through this year, when he stunned the team by signing to race for McLaren next year.

McLaren are now embarking on a similar programme to the one Piastri had as an Alpine junior. His first two-day test took place at Paul Ricard at the start of November in an unspecified older car, once an agreement had been reached to allow Piastri to depart Alpine early. He then drive the team’s current car in the only day of post-season testing at Yas Marina last week.

Piastri, who is taking over from Daniel Ricciardo in the team’s line-up, began a two-day test in Barcelona yesterday which included running on slick and wet tyres. More tests are anticipated in January and February next year.

McLaren’s team principal Andreas Seidl said the team’s plan is to get Piastri “as much experience as possible” during the off-season.

“We have a clear plan in place of what we want to achieve with Oscar in the [official] test but also then in January and February with him, before we hit the track going testing [with the 2023 car],” he said.

Seidl said Piastri’s runs in older McLarens are “a good opportunity for him to get a read of the characteristics of our car” and “getting used to how we communicate, getting used to all our procedures to the voices he will hear as well on the radio”.

McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown said he “was very impressed with how [Piastri] handled the summer drama” when the driver signed with McLaren while Alpine also believed they had him under contract. “He’s been not racing for a year, so we need to get any of that race rustiness off him, which I’m sure he’ll do in short order”. His first impressions from Piastri’s immersion into the race team at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was that he is a “very technical” driver.

Andrea Stella, McLaren’s executive racing director who oversaw the test programme given to Piastri in his first run with the 2022 car, wants the team’s new signing “to use his references [from older cars], references from the [new] car, references even from what we learnt with Daniel and so on” as he builds up F1 experience before his debut.

“We are quite adamant that he will have enough talent, process, intelligence to kind of find his own way, taking advantage of these references.”

Pic: McLaren via Twitter

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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10 comments on “Piastri’s preparation for F1 debut continues with two-day test in Spain”

  1. Just out of interest I assume that all this testing and associated costs count toward a teams budget cap?

    If so, does it count for this season or for 2023’s cap given the season is over.

    Seems to me that they’re pouring quite a bit of cash into having someone drive a car that bears absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the current generation of their car and they run the risk of having their new driver totally confused by jumping into something that is wildly different to the one they’ve been training him in.

    1. Pretty sure “heritage” doesn’t come out of the cap. Just can’t run a car under “current” rules until it is at least two years old. I.E he couldn’t test the 22 car privately until 2025

      1. @jj 2022-spec cars will become eligible for unlimited unofficial running in 2024, but otherwise, yes, limitations limit teams’ flexibility.

    2. The article mentions multiple reasons why these test sessions are beneficiary.

      I don’t think it costs too much. (I think 100 000 EUR max) So even if it counts towards cost cap, it does not matter much.

      1. I don’t think it costs too much. (I think 100 000 EUR max) So even if it counts towards cost cap, it does not matter much.

        Sounds less than a plateful of sandwiches on the Red Bull catering (allegedly) budget

    3. Running a car – different to current spec or not – will still enable the driver to get used to the general feeling of acceleration, cornering/G forces, inertia, balance, braking performance, visibility, control systems, understanding the tyres, etc etc.
      The more they do, the more natural and automatic it all becomes.

      Much better than going in (relatively) cold with only a couple of days shared testing before the first competitive event.

    4. As jj mentions below @dbradock, I am almost certain that this is considered running “heritage” cars for PR purposes and for customers. And therefore not counting towards either the budget cap nor the seasons limits on testing.

      With the completely new cars this year, they ruled that cars from last year were already considered to be far enough out of spec that teams would not learn anything useful for the current (or upcoming) seasons.

      Since driver salaries aren’t part of the budget cap either they could in theory have Piastry pay for the test as a “customer”/3rd party and just add a bit to his yearly salary or signing bonus or whatever to provide the money.

  2. Driving MCL36 in the Pirelli tests would prepare him even better, but perhaps he’ll indeed some of Mclaren’s share.

  3. As an Aussie – not sure if I’m happy or sad.

    Never quite understood, if CRB determined PIA legal contract was with McLaren, how Alpine had any control over him, thereafter???

  4. If he is indeed a technical driver that should put him in good stead against Norris who is also (apparently) a technical driver—whereas Ricciardo was (apparently) not.

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