Will there be a new Australian driver in the paddock? Melbourne native Oscar Piastri is the natural candidate for the bucket vacated by Fernando Alonso. He was Alpine’s reserve driver this season (which sometimes made him available to others, such as McLaren for example) and comes straight from the Academy of the French team with an almost perfect record: champion of Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019, Formula 3 in 2020 as a rookie (ahead of Frenchman Théo Pourchaire), then Formula 2 in 2021 still as a rookie. Last winter, the Chinese Zhou Guanyu (supported by his sponsors) gave him priority as driver promoted from F2 to F1, at Alfa Romeo.
First in F2 with a 60 point lead
During the GP of France (July 24), Laurent Rossi, the boss of Alpine, had underlined that the Australian (21 years old) and Alonso were “ two pilots who deserve “to be in F1 and that he” would love to see them both racing next year “. The Spaniard’s choice gives him the perfect opportunity to match his actions with his words. For that, he will only have to establish the one who achieved five successive poles during his victorious season in Formula 2. He flew over it by being crowned with more than 60 points in advance and by mounting the podium of all the main races (those with the grid formed according to qualification, without inversion), except the first, in Bahrain, where he was hit by the Briton Dan Ticktum.
But all is not so simple. Alpine’s initial plan seemed to be to keep Alonso for another year before sending him to Endurance and joining Piastri in 2024. Rossi had clearly said he was open to loaning his driver for 2023. Provided that we get him back, because we have invested heavily in him and we believe in him. He’s a promising talent. Like many other riders, starting with another team to learn the ropes and then coming back with us would be a good scenario. A Spanish man in his forties decided to smash it on Monday. And Piastri will soon know how much Alpine really believes in him.