Oscar Piastri has already made an impact even before debuting in Formula 1 from 2023, now his race number has been confirmed.
The Australian racer found himself centre stage in one of Formula 1’s strangest driver market tales, as Alpine and McLaren battled over the legal rights to his services.
A member of the Alpine Academy and current reserve driver for their time, Alpine had confirmed Piastri as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for 2023, only for him to deny that he would compete for Alpine next season.
As links emerged with McLaren, the Woking outfit having confirmed the early exit of Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the 2022 campaign, Piastri would ultimately sign a multi-year deal with McLaren after they and Alpine had gone before Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board.
Piastri then now knows that he will be on the grid for 2023, driving alongside Lando Norris at McLaren, so that means he needed a race number to carry with him during his Formula 1 career, under rules released in 2014.
And Piastri has selected the number 81, going on to explain his choice when he appeared on the In The Fast Lane podcast.
“Basically, when I did my first race, I had to pick a number for my first race and the car shop I went to only had number ones in stock,” he said. “And it had to be a one or two-digit number.
“I obviously couldn’t be number one because, for obvious reasons. So, I was actually number 11 for my first couple of races.
“We entered, I think it was the Victorian state titles, and somebody had already entered as number 11. So, I don’t know what inspired me to pick 81, but I changed the first one for a number eight and it stuck ever since.”
Alpine certainly did not take what has happened with Piastri well, their CEO Laurent Rossi even suggesting that they may pull the plug on their junior system.
Jack Doohan, Alpine’s Formula 2 star who is currently P4 in the standings, has been linked with filling the vacant Alpine seat for 2023, though with the team seemingly on the hunt for an experienced driver, that effectively rules him out of the equation.