Webber labels Piastri’s post-season McLaren test ‘pivotal’

Oscar Piastri was able to partake in F1's 2022 post-season test with McLaren

Oscar Piastri was able to partake in F1’s 2022 post-season test with McLaren. Picture: Bearne

Oscar Piastri’s chance to test with McLaren in late-2022 has been described as “pivotal” by manager Mark Webber.

The 21-year-old will compete as a rookie in the 2023 Formula 1 season after a year as Alpine’s reserve driver, a role he took up when unable to land a race seat following his Formula 2 triumph in 2021.

He was eventually confirmed as a future McLaren driver after a particularly messy contract dispute with Alpine, which had sought to elevate him to an F1 race role this year once Fernando Alonso decided to leave for Aston Martin.

Nevertheless, the Anglo-French operation retained the right to his services for the balance of 2022 and chose to sideline the Melburnian for several months.

It would ultimately grant an early release which allowed Piastri to drive an older McLaren before making his official debut in papaya in November’s post-season test.

“It’s pivotal,” said Webber of that seat time on the KTM Summer Grill.

“Obviously, the working environment is important, particularly for someone like Oscar, who’s so insanely detailed.

“He’s methodical in his approach and McLaren has seen that already, which is great, but you can do as much at the factory as a reserve driver, whatever that is [or] can be, but you need to be racing and preparing for that.

“Ultimately, he’s enjoyed those tests and that was a good scenario, very good for us, brilliant scenario for us to be able to do those.

“[It] gives them and Oscar some things to think about obviously over the winter in preparation for Bahrain [this] year, because the mileage is pretty short now.

“I’m a fossil now, I’m an old guy, but back in our day we used to do loads of testing but obviously for the youngsters now, it’s pretty thin on the ground.

“Oscar had done eight days in the car up until June and then had, like, a four-month gap, so it’s not like tennis or golf, it’s pretty hard on these youngsters these days.”

Piastri’s post-season miles at Yas Marina are particularly valuable considering pre-season testing for the 2023 campaign will be just three days, shared with incumbent Lando Norris.

That test will take place at Bahrain on February 23-25.

CLICK HERE for more from Webber, including comment on his former team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, on the KTM Summer Grill

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