Oscar Piastri’s chances of securing the final seat on the 2022 grid are not over, with reports again claiming Alfa Romeo will not bow to Guanyu Zhou’s demands.
Alfa Romeo have what team boss Fred Vasseur has called a “luxury problem” as the Hinwil squad have the only available seat for next year’s Formula 1 championship.
And it comes with a long list of drivers wanting it, and some – such as Zhou – who are willing to pay a lot for it.
Zhou, competing in his third season in Formula 2, has made it clear he is done with the feeder series, that he will not be there in 2022.
The Chinese driver instead wants a move up into Formula 1 with his sponsors willing to pay for it.
But while the money is good, Zhou has demands Alfa Romeo are not willing to meet, such as the duration of the deal.
According to Swiss publication Blick, he wants three years but Vasseur is only willing to commit to 2022 as he intends putting Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire in the car the following season.
It is not the first time that has been claimed, but this time around it is being reported Alfa Romeo are using Piastri as a bargaining chip.
Blick state Piastri ‘threatens’ Zhou’s chances of joining the grid as Alfa Romeo have made it clear that if they cannot do a deal with Zhou on their terms, they will look to his fellow Alpine junior for Valtteri Bottas’ 2022 team-mate.
Signing Piastri would by no means be a hardship for Alfa Romeo given the Australia won last year’s Formula 3 title, ahead of Pourchaire, and is currently leading the Formula 2 championship with 178 points to Zhou’s 142.
Vasseur has billed his driver situation as a “luxury problem”, telling Auto Motor und Sport he is happy to wait until the Formula 2 season concludes in Abu Dhabi before making a decision.
“The next two races won’t take place until December,” he said. “We can’t predict today who will be champion.”
Piastri, though, reckons he has more chance of being Alpine’s reserve driver next season than he does racing in Formula 1.
“Looking forward, that Alfa seat,” he told Motorsport.com, “I’m not very confident about that.
“Realistically, the most logical pathway is to try and be reserve driver for Alpine next year and put in a lot of hours in the sim and really working with the team to try and get a 2023 seat.
“I’d be okay with spending one year on the sidelines, I think. Obviously it’s still not ideal, but it’s happened to quite a lot of drivers out there.”
Planet F1 verdict
Could Piastri, not Zhou, drive for Alfa Romeo next season?
With Guanyu Zhou apparently demanding too long a contract, Alfa Romeo could turn too Oscar Piastri, but such a move seems unlikely.