We all remember where we were when Oscar Piastri sent *that* tweet. When the Aussie appeared to bin off a seat at Alpine next season without any other deal on the table. Sent during the summer break, that post took F1 silly season to a whole new level.
As it turned out, Piastri had also been talking to McLaren. And had already signed a deal with them that triggered a war of words between McLaren bosses and their counterparts at Alpine.
This squabble eventually went to the Contract Recognition Board (CRB), which ruled that McLaren had the valid driver contract. But undeterred, the teams had continued bickering until fairly recently, this time over when Piastri could actually leave Alpine for good.
Now Alpine and McLaren appear to have put the whole saga behind them, with Piastri being cleared to run for McLaren in post-season testing in Abu Dhabi.
“The season is nearly at the end and it was time to come to an agreement,” said Alpine chief Otmar Szafnauer.
“We’re happy that Oscar can start his McLaren career after the last race in Abu Dhabi and do the test. We will be doing the same with Pierre [Gasly].”
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) September 2, 2022
In fact, the deal must have been done at least a week ago, as Piastri tested a 2021 McLaren at Paul Ricard last week.
Given the last-gen nature of the car being tested, Szafnauer’s opposite number Andreas Seidl said there was “not too much to read into” in terms of performance.
But the McLaren boss did admit he was “very much looking forward to” working with Piastri to get prepping for next year after the chequered flag falls in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s obviously a very important test for us to get an initial read from Oscar’s side on our car, and give him an initial feeling,” he explained.
“The objective is to try together with Oscar to make sure the first race in Bahrain doesn’t feel like it’s the first race for him in F1. The young drivers test is an important starting point.”
Can F1’s newest Aussie hit the ground running in 2023?