Oscar Piastri will drive for McLaren in Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi post-season test after the team reached an agreement with Renault-owned Alpine to release him, both sides said on Saturday.
French driver Pierre Gasly will also be freed by Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri to test with Alpine, the team he is joining for 2023.
McLaren shocked the paddock at the time, when they announced in September that 21-year-old Australian Piastri, Alpine’s reserve this year, had signed for 2023 as a replacement for compatriot Daniel Ricciardo after winning a contract dispute.
Alpine had also wanted Piastri to replace departing double-world F1 champion Fernando Alonso, who is joining Aston Martin.
“I can confirm that in the end we reached a settlement agreement with all parties involved which enabled us to put Oscar in an old car last week in Paul Ricard (Le Castellet) to do a private test,” McLaren boss Andreas Seidl told reporters at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
He said Piastri would start working officially with McLaren on 21 November and test the current car at Yas Marina.
“The season’s nearly at the end and it was time to come to an agreement, and we did,” said Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
Oscar to drive for McLaren and Pierre Gasly to get familiar with his new Alpine ride
The Alpine team boss added: “We’re happy that Oscar can start his McLaren career after the last race in Abu Dhabi and do the test and we will be doing the same with Pierre, we’ll be putting Pierre in the car in Abu Dhabi.”
Alpine and McLaren are in an intense battle for fourth place in the 2022 F1 constructors’ standings, with the French team seven points clear of their rivals with two races remaining.
Seidl said getting Piastri in the car for the Abu Dhabi test was important: “Kilometres nowadays in F1 cars for race drivers are quite limited, with the regulations that are in place especially when it comes to running the current car.
“Therefore it’s a very important test for us to get an initial read from Oscar’s side as well on our car and give him an initial feeling which is then simply the starting point of making sure we get him ready for Bahrain next year.
“We have a good programme in place and a lot of experience in getting young drivers ready for their first race in Formula 1 and that’s obviously the objective,” explained Seidl.
This brings to an end to tensions that simmered between the two teams when Alpine realized that Piastri had been poached from under their noses by quick-thinking Zak Brown, which led to war of words between the two American team bosses. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)