Oscar Piastri could make race debut

Oscar Piastri could become a bona fide Formula 1 driver sooner rather than later, and may have already signed a contract to race, according to a well-respected broadcaster.

RacingNews365 host Tom Coronel said Australian Piastri, who is currently reserve driver for French team Alpine, is likely to end up at Williams next year on loan from Alpine.

Coronel added that because of Nicholas Latifi’s slow start to 2022, the teams may agree to the loan earlier, which would see Piastri make his debut before the end of the year.

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The 21-year-old has had several tests in Formula 1 machinery already this year, but is yet to make his debut in an official session at a Grand Prix weekend.

Coronel – who himself had a successful career in touring cars – said Alpine had a “decent” budget put aside to help develop Piastri, and that a deal may have been signed at the last Grand Prix in Monaco.

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“I don’t know when they’re going to come out with it. That’s a strong rumour,” he said.

“If you want to mature someone in Formula 1, like Piastri, then Alpine has set aside a decent budget for this: a budget to park him and get him used to Formula 1.”

It is considered highly unlikely that Fernando Alonso will retire at the end of the year, and his pace throughout the early part of 2022 has well and truly been good enough to warrant him keeping his seat for next year.

It is not uncommon for the big teams to loan junior drivers to other teams so as to not throw them straight in the deep end when they eventually get their shot.

George Russell and Charles Leclerc both famously spent time at Williams and Sauber (now Alfa Romeo) respectively before being called up to the senior Mercedes and Ferrari squads.

Coronel said if Piastri does go to Williams mid-season, that would all but confirm Alpine’s 2023 plans.

“You wouldn’t loan out a driver like Piastri, (or) put him in a Williams for nothing.

“That means (Alpine) would like to keep their driver line-up unchanged.”

Former Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher said last month he would also like to see Piastri in a Williams.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said he had heard the Williams rumours, but no discussions had taken place for an early switch.

Szafnauer told he would consider any opportunity for Piastri to get more mileage.

“In the past, when McLaren have come to us and said, ‘Hey, can we use (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.”

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