Piastri: McLaren test in Abu Dhabi a 'building block' towards 2023

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Oscar Piastri says his public debut with McLaren earlier this week in Abu Dhabi wasn't about just getting acquainted with his new team, it was especially a "building block" towards 2023.

Piastri put 123 laps under his belt last Tuesday at Yas Marina, hailing first day onboard a 2022-spec F1 car as both enjoyable and useful as he gathered knowledge and experience.

But for the highly rated young Aussie, the day of running was also head start of sorts on his 2023 programme.

"It's a cool feeling," Piastri told the media in Abu Dhabi.

"It's a very different feeling to the young driver test I did last year, because I knew that was kind of just a day to have fun in an F1 car whereas, obviously, this year, it's a building block towards next year.

"It was awesome to have my first day with McLaren and to get to know everyone in the team. I'm trying to improve and get back up to speed for next year, so [it was] pretty special."

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Piastri admitted that he felt a "decent" difference between McLaren's MCL36 and the Woking-based outfit's 2021 car which he also recently tested, or Alpine 2021 contender that he sampled on several occasions earlier this year.

"In the low-speed corners, just the added weight, you can tell," he noted. "And I think just with the stiffness and some of the other general characteristics of the car, it's in some ways a little bit more like an F2 car.

"But still, in the grand scheme of things much, much closer to the older F1 car. So yes, there's a bit of a difference, but it's still an F1 car."

While feeling comfortable at the end of the day, Piastri acknowledged that switching to McLaren's new-generation machine was a seamless affair.

"I wouldn't say it was 100 per cent natural, but I don't think any car is 100 per cent natural," the 21-year-old explained.

"I think one of the difficulties of the sport is being able to adapt. It's certainly different to the F2 car I've raced, the F3 car I've raced, the '21 car that I drove.

"You have to change it more or less every year, and the cars are constantly getting developed so, even throughout the season, you might have to adapt.

"So there [were] a few things that did need a bit of changing, but there was nothing that was completely alien."

McLaren plans to fast-track Piastri's preparation for 2023 by giving its new recruit more track time this winter with the team's older-spec car.

"Simply to make sure he’s used to the Formula 1 machinery as much as possible with all the limitations you have nowadays in terms of testing," said McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl.

"With next year’s car, the objective is clear: we want to make sure that with the hard work we put in together with him, that he goes to the first race in Bahrain and it doesn’t actually feel like the first race for him.

"It’s a lot of hard work ahead of us. But we’re an experienced team, we know exactly which boxes we have to tick. Oscar’s a very talented driver – a great personality as well, a great character, so we’re looking forward to getting going with him."

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