Fresh F1 speculation sparks new hope for Aussie ace

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Australian F1 hopeful Oscar Piastri is rumoured to have Williams' interest for a spot on the grid next season. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Australian F1 hopeful Oscar Piastri is rumoured to have Williams' interest for a spot on the grid next season. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

It's rare for a driver to win the F3 and F2 championships in back to back years and not find themselves on a Formula One team the next season.

That's the exact situation Australian wheelman Oscar Piastri has found himself in this season though - much to the chagrin of motorsport fans back home.

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Despite the Melbourne-born 21-year-old's prodigious talent behind the wheel, limited movement in the driver market leading into the 2022 F1 season left him without a seat.

He instead took up a reserve driver role with Alpine, who have supported his junior career and have accomodated the Australian for several F1 tests in recent seasons.

There had been some slight hope that Piastri could slot into the Alfa Romeo team alongside former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who joined the Ferrari-linked team this season.

Instead, Alfa opted to give the seat to Zhou Guanyu, the heavily backed Chinese driver who has impressed through the early weeks of his F1 career.

Having already lost out to one pay driver in F1, there is talk that Piastri could be in line to replace another for the 2023 season.

Alpine could still be where Piastri makes his F1 debut with the future of former world champion Fernando Alonoso yet to be decided, however it is with the ailing Williams team that the Aussie could find his place on the grid.

Canada's Nicholas Latifi, who secured his drive with Williams thanks to lucrative sponsorship arrangements contributing to the team's finances in 2020, is facing pressure to stay in the sport after two seasons with few meaningful results to speak of, albeit in a woefully limited car.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the future of Alonso would be worked through before any decisions were made on Piastri's future, though he didn't rule out another team luring the talented Aussie away.

“We haven’t thought that through yet, because it’s a little bit early,” he said of Alonso.

“But around Silverstone we will probably be talking about (our driver line-up for 2023)."

Oscar Piastri rumoured for F1 seat with Williams in 2023

There is a long way to go yet in the 2022 season and there are only rumours of Williams' interest in Piastri - albeit lended credibility when Szafnauer referenced them when speaking to motorsport.com.

Alpine is not against other teams showing interest for the time being - they would have allowed McLaren to use him as a substitute earlier this season when there was a chance Daniel Ricciardo couldn't race after recovering from a bout of Covid-19.

While Szafnauer admitted there was great value for Alpine in getting Piastri behind the wheel of an F1 car as soon as possible, there was still much to be worked through first.

“I haven’t considered that deeply yet,” Szafnauer said of Williams' interest in Piastri.

Oscar Piastri could still make his F1 debut with Alpine, should the team opt against keeping former world champion Fernando Alonso. on the books. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)
Oscar Piastri could still make his F1 debut with Alpine, should the team opt against keeping former world champion Fernando Alonso. on the books. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

“I don’t know what’s happening at Williams, but I’ve heard the rumours.

“In the past, when McLaren have come to us and said, ‘Hey, can we use him (Piastri) as a reserve driver?’ We said yes.

“The reason for that is, the more seat time that he can get instead of sitting out, the better. So we would have that strategically in mind. But as far as what’s happening at Williams, I don’t know.”

The oldest driver on the grid at 40 years old, Alonso has made no indication he wants to retire at season's end, having returned to F1 last season in impressive fashion.

Piastri dominated the 2021 F2 championship, finishing more than 50 points clear of runner-up Robert Schwartzmann and thrid placed Guanyu.

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