Oscar Piastri will have to settle for a reserve role in 2022 even if he wins the Formula 2 championship, after being promoted to become Alpine’s reserve driver.
The 20-year-old Australian won the Formula 3 title as a rookie last season, and after staying with Prema for the step up to F2 he currently leads the championship by 36 points on Guanyu Zhou. However, with fellow Alpine academy member Zhou securing the last race seat on the 2022 grid at Alfa Romeo, the French constructor has given Piastri its reserve role for next season.
“I’m super excited to be joining Alpine F1 Team as reserve driver,” Piastri said. “I’m looking forward to being much more involved with the team and contributing to its intended success next season. The Reserve Driver role is the next step towards my aim for a race seat in 2023, which is very exciting.
“I’ve proved myself in the junior formulas over the last couple of years and feel like I’m ready for Formula 1 now. Along with the trackside experience at race weekends, we will put together a substantial test program in order to keep developing myself to grow even more prepared for a race seat.
“I’m very thankful to Alpine for their support. We’ve enjoyed two very successful seasons together in the Academy and I’m grateful for the faith they’ve put in me for this next step with an eye on a bigger future. My focus now is finishing the Formula 2 Championship in the best possible way with Prema and I’m looking forward to being back in the car and pushing hard on track.”
I’m super excited to announce that I will be Reserve Driver for @AlpineF1Team in 2022. It’s the next step in our partnership, and I’m massively thankful for Alpine’s continued support. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve next year! pic.twitter.com/Yjrn0jzWaU
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) November 16, 2021
Piastri’s role will see him undertake “an extensive testing program” and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says the team will use 2022 to try and ensure he is as prepared as possible for any future promotion to a race seat.
“Oscar’s natural talent is clear to see, so we’re very proud and privileged to have him as part of our team as our reserve driver from next year,” Rossi said. “Not only does Oscar have the on-track skills, as demonstrated over the last couple of years in the junior categories, but also the maturity and composure that makes him really stand out from the rest.
“At Enstone he has been a real asset to the team as he has aided the simulator and testing program and I am certain he will continue to do so in his new role. The next step will be to consistently attend grands prix to fully integrate with the race team, learn what is expected of an F1 driver and be ready for when the opportunity comes.
“In addition, we look forward to having Oscar’s input and expertise in driving the team forwards next year. Oscar’s graduation highlights the success of our Alpine Academy and underlines its strength as one of the best young driver programs in motorsport. We look forward to seeing our young talents continue to blossom through the years to come.”
Of Alpine’s current driver line-up, Fernando Alonso’s contract expires at the end of 2022, while Esteban Ocon signed a new three-year deal earlier this season.