Piastri linked to Alfa Romeo F1 race seat
By Mat Coch
Saturday 11th September, 2021 - 9:43am
Australian youngster Oscar Piastri is in the frame for the sole remaining seat on the 2022 Formula 1 grid.
Speedcafe.com has learned that the Melburnian, who currently leads the FIA Formula 2 Championship, is among the drivers being considered by Alfa Romeo.
A host of names have been linked with the remaining seat alongside newly signed Valtteri Bottas, who’ll join from Mercedes in place of the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.
Antonio Giovinazzi currently holds the seat, with the likes of Callum Ilott, Guanyu Zhou, and Theo Pourchaire touted as possible team-mates.
Pourchaire is a member of Sauber’s academy programme, though at just 18 is regarded as not yet ready for the step into F1.
Speaking in Monza on Friday, Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur admitted there is a list of half a dozen drivers under consideration.
“I don’t want to give your name because if I forgot someone it will be a drama,” the Frenchman said.
He added that, while conversations have taken place with some drivers, he’s not spoken to everyone currently under consideration.
Piastri is something of a dark horse for the drive, with attention for the most part focused on his Alpine Academy colleague.
“Zhou is doing a good job in F2, for sure he’s on the list,” Vasseur admitted.
“It’s not only due to the fact that he’s Chinese, but that he’s a front-runner in F2, he won some races and I think every single team in the F1 is looking after him.”
The Alfa Romeo Sauber boss added that he is in no rush to make a decision, given the Formula 2 campaign doesn’t wrap up until December and that to date it’s had just four rounds.
“We always said that we want to have a look also on the junior series, that they are doing two races in a row with Monza and Sochi, and probably that by the end of September with my shareholders that we will discuss the point,” Vasseur said.
Asked about the prospect of securing the drive next season, Piastri suggested his chances were “very slim”.
“Obviously, there’s one spot left [and] there’s a hell of a lot of people trying to get it,” he said.
“I’m with Alpine and there’s no engine link there, so it’s not the most conventional route.
“I’ll be honest, the chances are very slim but, for my own sake, I don’t want to give up hope yet.
“It’s been a tough few weeks, to be honest, watching all those seats filling up,” he added.
“But there’s still that one left, and now Alfa have all the time in the world to decide who they put in.”
Should Piastri get the nod, it would see him become the second Australian on the F1 grid, joining compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.
The last time two Aussies featured in a Formula 1 race was the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Mark Webber drove for Red Bull and Ricciardo at Toro Rosso.
Piastri, who is now managed by Webber, will start Sunday’s Formula 2 Feature Race from pole position, his second of the season.
Meanwhile, Giovinazzi progressed to Qualifying 3 for the second successive event for Alfa Romeo Sauber, and will start Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying from 10th.