McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has revealed that Oscar Piastri’s first target at the Woking-based team is to “get any of that race rustiness off him”, with the Australian driver having not raced a car since the 2021 Formula 2 season finale.
McLaren’s newest signing spent the entirety of last season on the bench, with Alpine having failed to give the young Australian anytime behind the wheel of their 2022 challenger.
The first experience he got of the new aerodynamic era of Formula 1 was when he drove for McLaren at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, with the bulk of his time as Alpine’s reserve driver having been spent trying to move to McLaren.
Piastri was, of course, announced by Alpine as Fernando Alonso’s replacement; however, the 2021 F2 World Champion revealed that he hadn’t agreed to replace Alonso and wouldn’t be doing so.
Alpine were certain that the Aussie was contracted to them, especially after it was confirmed that he’d signed a deal to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
The saga was ultimately dealt with by the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board, who came to the conclusion that Piastri wasn’t contracted to Alpine and could therefore move to McLaren for this season.
Piastri is an exceptional talent and is dubbed as a future World Champion, with Brown having already been “very impressed” by the 21-year-old.
“He is very mature for his age. I was very impressed with how he handled the summer drama, if you like. He’s obviously an immense talent,” said Brown, per Formula1.com.
“He’s not been racing for a year, so we need to get any of that race rustiness off him, which I’m sure we will do in short order. Very focused individual, very technical, and looking forward to seeing him and Lando on the grid next year.”
Brown also addressed the disappointing exit of Ricciardo, who has returned to Red Bull for 2023 to be their development driver following the termination of his contract at McLaren.
Whilst Ricciardo claimed McLaren a famous victory at Monza in 2021, the partnership just didn’t click.
Brown admits himself that their partnership with the 33-year-old simply didn’t work, but that he was “great to work with”.
“I mean, Daniel has been great to work with. He’s a great character. He’s great for Formula 1,” said Brown.
“He gave us our first win in almost a decade.
“It’s obviously unfortunate that it hasn’t worked out to continue longer. Hopefully, we’ll see him in a Formula 1 car because I think he’s great for the sport. And so, we’re going to wish him the best.”