Piastri targeting 2022 Formula 1 debut

Oscar Piastri. Picture: FIA Formula 2 Facebook

Oscar Piastri is looking to step up to Formula 1 as soon as next season.

The Australian currently lies fourth in the FIA Formula 2 Championship after the opening round.

On debut in the F1 feeder category, Piastri won the second race of the weekend in Bahrain.

With his eyes set on contesting for the F2 crown this season, he reasons success should result in his promotion to the sport’s pinnacle.

Part of the Alpine Academy, the 20-year-old is theoretically in line for one of the seats occupied by Esteban Ocon or Fernando Alonso.

Another title this year could then pose something of a headache for the Academy head, Mia Sharizman, when it comes to finding a drive in 2021.

“My way of looking at it is if I win the championship this year, there’ll be three championships in a row, and I’ve run out of junior single seaters to race,” Piastri told Speedcafe.com.

“So if I don’t have an F1 seat after that, then I don’t really know what else to do.

“I would like to think if I win the championship this year, then I would be on the F1 grid.”

Piastri last year won the FIA Formula 3 Championship on his first attempt, having taken out the European Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019.

The Melburnian is not alone in the Alpine Academy, with Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard also knocking on the door for a potential F1 berth.

There are no guarantees for any of them; though Ocon is out of contract come year end, meaning there’s theoretically one drive available.

“They’re obviously they’re still there for next year,” Piastri said of the team’s incumbent F1 pairing.

“I think Esteban’s still got to renew his contract for next year, and Fernando, I don’t actually know what his contract says.

“But I’d like to think that if I won this year, then that would pry open a seat; I don’t know what more I could do than three championships on the bounce.”

Working against Piastri is the fact that Alpine, and Renault, have no customer teams within Formula 1.

Ferrari has placed Antonio Giovinazzi with Alfa Romeo, with whom it was a technical relationship.

At Mercedes, George Russell has a deal with Williams for the current season that looks set to see him join the factory team for 2022.

AlphaTauri’s very existence is to blood prospective talents ahead of their promotion to the senior Red Bull squad.

There are no such opportunities readily available to Alpine or Piastri, which could mean the Australian finds himself in the right place at the wrong time.

A move away from Alpine, at this point, isn’t being considered.

“Mia, the academy director said something earlier this year about potentially exploring other teams even if there isn’t an engine relationship there,” Piastri suggested.

“That’s not my avenue, my avenue is to drive fast.

“As tricky as it is for the more senior people, and in terms of if I put myself in a good position, if that makes their life difficult, it’s a good difficulty to have, in my eyes.

“So I’ll just drive fast and if that situation arises, I’ll let people above me sort that out.

“If I won Formula Renault, F3, and F2 in a row then I’d be pretty disappointed if I wasn’t in F1 straight away, to be honest.”

Piastri’s Formula 2 campaign continues next weekend with Round 2 supporting the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix on May 20-23.

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