Piastri handed F1 reserve role at Alpine for 2022

2022 F1 season

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Alpine has confirmed the appointment of Oscar Piastri as the team’s reserve driver for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

The 20-year-old is leading the Formula 2 championship with two rounds remaining and has the chance to emulate George Russell and Charles Leclerc by winning F1’s most prominent junior series in back-to-back seasons.

If he does so, he will be unable to race in F2 again next year. However Alpine has previously confirmed Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon will drive for the team in 2022.

From next year F1 will require teams to run novice drivers in practice sessions at a limited number of grands prix. Piastri “will have an extensive testing programme to continue his preparation and training for a future Formula 1 race seat”, said the team.

“The reserve driver role is the next step towards my aim for a race seat in 2023, which is very exciting,” said Piastri. “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 programme in order to keep developing myself to grow even more prepared for a race seat. I’m very thankful to Alpine for their support.”

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said Piastri has obvious natural talent. “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 programme 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.”

Guanyu Zhou, the most senior driver on Alpine’s roster of young talent, is in the running for an F1 debut with Alfa Romeo next season.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Piastri handed F1 reserve role at Alpine for 2022”

  1. I guess this is as good as it can get given that a race seat is not possible.

    Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel may not have more than a year or two in the sport. Oscar’s time will come then.

    1. I guess Oscar will be hoping (somewhat counterintuitively) that Alpine are not competitive next season, which would probably push Alonso to retire. That would seem his best chance of getting to F1 in 2023.

    2. Another option I think would’ve worked well was to put him in their WEC team to race there. That’s also a top series and has a lot of prestige, especially in a competitive field next year. Although, they could still do that alongside this role.

  2. Not about this but any news on Davide Brivio? Seems Suzuki is keen to have him back in MotoGP because he hasn’t get that role on Alpine what he wanted? I heard it from MotoGP commentatiors so not so sure about the source.

  3. This development only paves more way for Zhou’s effectively inevitable Alfa Romeo move, which should get formally announced today based on Fred’s words I read last Thursday.

  4. Does this mean any changes for Danny K?

    As an Australian I’m happy for this, even if it looks like he’ll suffer from the “year(s) out of racing” blues which can’t help but impact a driver, and making actually commencing in F1 harder.

  5. Adrian Mitchell
    16th November 2021, 10:34

    He should have just gone gone to Indycar for a couple of years. He is at the top of his driving powers, so why waste his talents as a test driver?

  6. I’m happy for Oscar that he’s at least been retained inside Alpine.

    I suspect his time will come and suggest he spends every minute he can in their simulator (and the car whenever an opportunity arises). If Alonso doesn’t soundly trounce Ocon next year I’d expect him to walk away and Oscar should be first in line.

  7. With the change to give reserve drivers more opportunities to drive the real thing, this is actually probably a good way to go even if it feels disappointing to miss out on the race seat. With a solid year properly mixing with the team and participating at race weekends, he should be well prepared when the time comes to get the call up to a race seat. Nothing worse than seeing a promising young driver’s career go up in smoke due to a lack of preparation and experience.

  8. I’ve got mixed thoughts about this.

    I think Oscar is the real deal. He is combining speed and consistency in an impressive way. I’m surprised other teams aren’t interested in him

    He’s also beating the pants of G Zhou, who is in his third season in F2. Alpine let Zhou go to Alfa Romeo

    Estaban is signed on at Alpine until the end of 2024. If Fernando wants to stay on in 2023, he’ll get the seat.

    I can’t see much of an opening for him in 2023, but at least he will learn in 2022

    1. I agree with you. I fear F1 in 2023 is al but a certainty for
      Piastri. Would be a shame. I hope Alpine will arrange a competitive seat in a formula class for him in 2022. A year without serious competition is difficult to come back from.

  9. I am curious if Alpine tried to put Oscar into Alfa Romeo. It’s a shame that a talent is thrown away from racing for winning the F2 championship in his first year (not yet, but looks like Oscar is going to win this), while his slow teammate after three lackluster seasons in the same category gets promotion.

    My only hope is that with the budget cap in place the teams will lean more to talented drivers rather than money bags.

    1. I think Alpine used the Alfa opening as an opportunity to off load Zhou and promote Piastri.
      Hopefully they’ll have a seat and a better car for him in 2023.

  10. I think this makes sense for all parties. Piastri gets to learn behind Alonso and probably get a few FP1 appearances, while Alpine keeps a potential superstar within their ranks.

    Plus that Alfa seat would bring immediate pressure to perform, since Pourchaire looms in the background. Not saying Zhou isn’t capable of keeping the seat, but Alfa was insisting on a 1 year contract for a reason…

  11. I think this is much better news for Oscar Piastri (and his many fans) in him not having to leave Alpine to take up a 1 year F1-seat deal in 2022 with Alfa-Romeo-Sauber. Sure, a seat in F1 is the goal for Oscar Piastri, but it is way-better to be the RIGHT seat under the right terms and team.

    Contract to the Works F1 team Alpine has more upside than Alfa-Romeo, and Piastri as the reserve driver in 2022 is first in queue to step in if either Alonso or Ocon are sidelined due to COVID quarantine or injury. Oscar will also benefit from F1 drive time on weekends and F1 team integration for a whole year. (Remember George Russel in Mercedes garage?).

    Sometimes… the right path is not to jump into the last seat, but be selected in position for the right one.

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