McLaren have further bolstered their reserve driver options for F1 2023 after striking a deal with fellow Mercedes customer Aston Martin.
In recent seasons having access to a reserve driver has proven very important, with the impact of COVID meaning that opportunities have presented themselves around the grid.
Just last season Aston Martin called upon Nico Hulkenberg for the opening two rounds of the 2022 campaign, with Sebastian Vettel unable to race due to the illness.
Hulkenberg has now returned to the grid for F1 2023 with Haas, which opened the door at Aston Martin for Stoffel Vandoorne and reigning Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich to take over reserve duties.
And a new agreement between Aston Martin and McLaren means that the services of this duo will now be available to McLaren for the first 15 races of F1 2023.
That means McLaren will have access to Vandoorne and Drugovich from Round 1 in Bahrain to Round 15 at Monza, while they will also have Mercedes’ reserve Mick Schumacher as an option throughout the season.
Schumacher and Drugovich currently have no other racing commitments, while Vandoorne is getting stuck into the new Formula E campaign with the DS Penske team.
In a social media statement, Aston Martin posted: “AMF1 has agreed that McLaren will have access to our reserve drivers, Felipe Drugovich and Stoffel Vandoorne, in the instance that they are required for driving duties for the first 15 races of 2023.”
McLaren would also confirm the news on their social media pages.
“We will have access to Aston Martin F1’s reserve drivers, Felipe Drugovich and Stoffel Vandoorne, in the instance that they are required for driving duties for the first 15 races of 2023.”
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The new Formula 1 campaign is now fast approaching, but before the opening round in Bahrain, the teams will be in action at the venue for the pre-season test, held from February 23-25.
Both McLaren and Aston Martin are sporting changed driver line-ups for F1 2023.
At McLaren, Oscar Piastri has arrived for his rookie season, taking the place of his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, while Aston Martin gained the services of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso as a replacement to Vettel after he retired at the end of last season.
That means Lance Stroll gets to test himself up against another multi-time champ.