Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer is now confident that Oscar Piastri will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2023.
Piastri replicated the achievement of both Charles Leclerc and George Russell before him, that being winning the Formula 3 title, or GP3 as it was known then for Leclerc and Russell, and then the Formula 2 crown in back-to-back seasons.
The similarities stopped though when it came to the step up to Formula 1, Piastri unable to find an opening on the grid for 2022 despite his backing from Alpine.
Committed though to putting that right for 2023, Szafnauer now expects Piastri to be in Formula 1 from next season.
Asked by reporters in Canada if he thinks Piastri will be on the grid in 2023, Szafnauer replied: “Yes.”
So, was that for certain? Does Piastri have an agreement already in place?
“We don’t talk about the details of our contracts with the drivers and that’s something that we never do,” Szafnauer replied. “So as much as I’d like to tell you, I don’t think I can.
“But when I do say yes, that’s the plan.”
The future vacancy which Piastri has been tipped to fill will be over at Williams, the Grove outfit believed to be preparing to bring him in as a replacement for the struggling Nicholas Latifi.
Williams team boss Jost Capito has consistently knocked back suggestions that his team could make a mid-season driver change, but while Szafnauer has no insider knowledge on what Williams are planning, he did not rule out the possibility of Piastri racing in Formula 1 before next season.
“It’s hard for me to predict the future on that, so I’d like not to, but I don’t have any more knowledge than you do,” said Szafnauer.
“If I could predict the future, I’d be in Vegas. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Formula 1 is currently in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, Latifi’s home race, where Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz reaffirmed the speculation that Piastri’s 2023 switch to Williams could be confirmed at the British Grand Prix, which follows Canada.
“Alpine are expecting Piastri to have a race drive in Formula 1 next year,” he reported on his Ted’s Notebook programme.
“Everyone thinks it’s Williams and it could even be announced as early as the next race at Silverstone.”
As for the suggestions that Piastri could replace Latifi before 2023, Kravitz explained that such a move from Williams is unlikely.
He said: “Some people think before , but I don’t think they would want to do that. Why would they want to do that? Especially when Nicholas Latifi is going well at the moment and not putting it in the barriers and costing the team a lot of money.”
Torquing Point: Nicholas Latifi under pressure
Henry Valantine is joined by CC F1 to preview the Canadian Grand Prix, where Nicholas Latifi will be under the cosh at his first home race.