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McLaren announced the extension of the contract of Oscar Piastri until 2026, which secures the team’s lineup for years to come. Lando Norris also has a long contract, which was signed in 2022 and will keep him at the British squad until 2025 at least.
How Piastri ended up at McLaren
Piastri had an interesting summer last season, as two teams were fighting for his services. The Australian was a member of the Alpine Academy through his exceptional junior single seater career, which included Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles as a rookie.
With Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon at the team though, there was no way to a racing seat for Piastri in 2022, so he stayed in the sidelines as the team’s test and reserve driver instead. Ahead of 2023, it looked like the French outfit would keep the same lineup, until Sebastian Vettel’s retirement led to an abrupt exit for Alonso in August.
Following that development, Alpine duly announced the promotion of Piastri to a race seat for 2023. By that point though, the Aussie and his management team, led by Mark Webber, had already signed a contract with McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo. Piastri refuted Alpine’s claims via an infamous tweet:
I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) August 2, 2022
A legal dispute between the two teams broke out and the Contract Recognition Board ruled that Alpine was in the wrong and Piastri was free to join McLaren.
Piastri’s rookie season so far
It has been a season of highs and lows for Piastri, but he has shown signs of great talent nevertheless. The McLaren MCL60 was uncompetitive for much of the first half of the season and the rookie was only able to score points twice, finishing eighth in his home race at Melbourne and tenth in Monaco.
The big upgrade package which Piastri received in Silverstone did wonders for him though. In his first race with it, he was looking good for a podium finish until a safety car period gave Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to overhaul him. Since then, he has finished fifth in Hungary, second in the sprint race in Belgium and also scored at Zandvoort and Singapore.
A new McLaren contract for Piastri
These performances have helped Oscar Piastri secure a new contract, one of the longer ones in the sport right now. Only Max Verstappen is secured for longer, with his deal with Red Bull expiring in 2028. Piastri is currently the only other driver with a contract up to 2026, with George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas seeing their current contracts expire in 2025.
Piastri was delighted with the news, as he mentioned in the team’s statement:
Ever since the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test last year, I feel a real part of all things papaya and my thanks go to everyone in and around the team as well as all the fans.
Stability is a huge advantage in this early part of my career and to have that with a brand as prestigious as McLaren gives me the opportunity to continue the work that we’ve started.
We’ve enjoyed some good moments together in my rookie season, but I’m excited to work together with everyone at MTC over the coming years to create some great moments.
2026. Very happy. Big smile 😁 pic.twitter.com/kuWIg962LT
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) September 20, 2023
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