RACE DEBRIEF

    In the wake of a busy summer of driver market developments, it has been confirmed that both Oscar Piastri and Pierre Gasly will be free to drive for their new teams at the post-season F1 test in Abu Dhabi.

    Piastri was central to this year’s ‘silly season’ as McLaren and long-time backers Alpine battled for his services, with the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board ultimately ruling that the Woking team were the ones with a valid contract.

    Given that Piastri had been supported by Alpine on his journey up the motorsport ladder, and officially remained as the team’s reserve driver, it was unclear as to when the Australian would be able to link up with McLaren.

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    However, following talks between the two teams, McLaren received clearance to run Piastri at the Yas Marina test, for which he recently gained some valuable preparation with an outing in older machinery – again at Alpine’s discretion.

    “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 and do a private test,” said McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl in Sao Paulo.

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    Andreas Seidl (L) and Otmar Szafnauer (R) confirmed the plans for their new drivers at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

    “[It] will enable us to officially start working with Oscar on Monday after the last race in Abu Dhabi, which enables us then as well to put him in the current car at the Young Driver Test, which is something we’re very much looking forward to – it’s great for us and for Oscar.”

    Meanwhile, as part of the behind-the-scenes paddock discussions, Gasly will also make the switch from AlphaTauri to Alpine for the post-season test, as he prepares to join fellow Frenchman Esteban Ocon.

    Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer added: “The season’s nearly at the end. It was time to come to an agreement, and we did. We’re happy that Oscar can start his McLaren career after the last race in Abu Dhabi and do the test, and we’ll be doing the same with Pierre.

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    “We’ll be putting Pierre in the car in Abu Dhabi and we’ll get working on our driver pairing, driver line-up, get his feedback, get his initial thoughts on our car this year, and start to understand the things he likes and dislikes, and hopefully be able to make some changes on next year’s car with Pierre’s input in mind.”

    Former F2 and Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, who starred during a one-off appearance for Williams at the Italian Grand Prix, will take Gasly’s place at AlphaTauri, with the Italian team yet to confirm their plans for the Abu Dhabi test session.