McLaren made the bold choice earlier in the season to replace F1 veteran Daniel Ricciardo, who has underwhelmed during his time with the team, with a fellow Australian, young Oscar Piastri.
The rookie has won both the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in 2020 and 2021, but failed to secure a seat in Formula 1 for 2022, despite reported interest from multiple teams.
The 21-year-old was signed to the the Renault Sport Academy and was embroiled in controversy with Alpine earlier this year.
Piastri was announced as Fernando Alonso’s replacement by Alpine but shockingly the Australian took to Twitter to reject the announcement and claim that nothing had been signed for 2023.
It took a legal process with the FIA to determine whether Piastri was actually obliged to race for the French team in 2023 of if he was free to sign a contract with another team, and it was concluded that Piastri was free to do what he chooses, deciding to sign with McLaren instead.
It has now been reported by the French media that the young driver has already taken part in his first test drive for the team from Woking, suiting up to drive the McLaren around Paul Ricard, the home of the French Grand Prix, last week.
“McLaren has not issued any official communications about the test,” said Jeremy Satis, a correspondent for the media outlet that revealed the news, which was always likely to be the case considering the fact that Piastri is still under contract with Alpine until the end of the season.
There are more test drives to be done this year, with a Pirelli tyre test set to take place in Abu Dhabi where each team will have to nominate an established driver and a rookie to take part, with it currently being undecided whether Piastri will be allowed to partake for McLaren by his current employers.
“I don’t want to think about it yet because there’s more considerations to be had,” said Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer, when asked about the chance of an early transfer for their driver.
“No, there’s no update. But I will tell you first as soon as I have an update,” confirmed Andreas Seidl, the McLaren team principal.
One thing for certain is that it will not be a friendly transaction, with the relationship between Alpine and McLaren being extremely frosty, both due to their rivalry in the constructors’ championship and their legal dispute over their 2023 second driver.