Australia’s Oscar Piastri will drive for British team McLaren in next season’s championship, confirming the long-expected move on social media.
McLaren won its contract battle with French rivals Alpine on Friday, enabling the team to announce 21-year-old Piastri as the man to take over from his fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo next season.
Ricciardo will leave McLaren at the end of what has proved a disappointing two-year spell — but hopes are high that Melbourne’s Piastri will become the next Australian F1 superstar.
“I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me,” said the reigning Formula Two champion, who’s managed by former Australian F1 star Mark Webber.
Piastri, who will join forces with Briton Lando Norris at the Woking-based team, had gone public during a contract battle with his determination to join McLaren.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer had been confident of retaining Piastri but after the dispute went before F1’s Contract Recognition Board this week, the four-person tribunal ruled McLaren had an existing contract in place.
“The only contract to be recognised by the board is the contract between McLaren Racing Limited and Mr Piastri dated 4 July 2022,” governing body FIA said in a statement on Friday.
“Mr Piastri is entitled to drive for McLaren Racing Limited for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.”
Alpine said it accepted the ruling, which leaves it with a vacant seat next year — with which Ricciardo’s name has already been linked, along with AlphaTauri’s French driver Pierre Gasly.
McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl welcomed the Australian.
“Oscar has an impressive racing career to date, and we are sure that together with Lando, he will be able to help us move another step forward towards our ambitions.”
Piastri has a remarkable motorsport resume already, having won the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup before going on to win the 2020 Formula Three title and last year’s Formula Two crown in successive rookie seasons.
“The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid,” said Piastri.
“I’m focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya.”
McLaren boss Zak Brown hailed Piastri as “one of the up-and-coming talents” and said he could form a potent, youthful combination with Norris, who has had six podium finishes by the age of 22.
“In Lando and Oscar we have a young, exciting F1 line-up with a huge amount of potential, standing us in good stead to achieve our future ambitions,” Brown said.
“Oscar is an exciting addition to the McLaren family, and we look forward to seeing him grow with our F1 team.”