Alpine unlikely to release Piastri to join Alfa Romeo, says Vasseur

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Formula 2 points leader Oscar Piastri is unlikely to be able to claim the final place on the Formula 1 grid next year because of his ties to Alpine, says Alfa Romeo’s team principal Frederic Vasseur.

The second seat at Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas is the final vacancy on the grid for the 2022 F1 season. Vasseur is considering several drivers for the position and previously told RaceFans that Piastri’s F2 rival Guanyu Zhou is “on the list”. Like Piastri, he is a member of Alpine’s junior driver academy.

However Vasseur doubts Alpine would be prepared to let Piastri join their team.

“Oscar is doing a very good job,” he said. “But as far as I know and I understand that he’s linked with Renault, or Alpine.”

“I didn’t discuss with Alpine about this but if you invest in a driver for all the junior series and to have a long-term programme with him, I don’t see the point to let him go to another team in F1,” Vasseur added. “It would be strange.”

Piastri won the Formula Renault Eurocup (now Formula Regional Europe) in 2019, took the FIA Formula 3 title as a rookie last year and is now leading the Formula 2 standings. Vasseur admitted he is a strong candidate for a future promotion to F1.

“He won in a row the Formula Renault, the F3 on the first year and now the F2,” said Vasseur. “It’s not done, the F2, because they have still two events to go, but for sure if you compare with the past he’s doing a very, very strong job

“It’s crystal clear for me that he’s probably one of the best on the field today. And indeed in the junior series he did a great job also last year, he was fighting with Theo [Pourchaire] until the last event. He’s one of the young kids that will be successful in F1, for sure.”

If Piastri wins the F2 title he will not be allowed to race in the championship again next year. However Vasseur says this won’t necessarily hurt his chances of succeeding in F1.

“First of all Oscar, so far he’s leading the championship but he’s not champion, it could be the situation that he could do another season in F2. And for sure, each year the situation is different with a different number of seats in F1 and a different situation on the driver side.

“I think that Renault helped him to do the steps between Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2. They are supportive with him and it would be a bit unfair to complain about the situation.

“But you had a couple of drivers in the past doing one year of testing or one year of F2 again – if he’s not champion – and then he will be successful in F1. But it’s not because he won’t jump in F1 next year, that it’s the end of the world.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Alpine unlikely to release Piastri to join Alfa Romeo, says Vasseur”

  1. I wonder if we’ll ever see the scenario of someone throwing the title at the final round so as to have another year in F2. If it was obvious everyone would know they were the ‘real’ champion anyway, and then you could be ‘back-to-back’ champion and hope the seats situation is better twelve months on.

    Unlikely, but possible.

    1. @bernasaurus That’d hurt his reputation more than a year on the sidelines would! If he sticks around in F2 there’s a decent chance Pourchaire or maybe Lawson might beat him to the title in 2022.

  2. Budkowski said last race weekend they wouldn’t stand in the way.

  3. they won’t release piastri but apparently will release zhou? his $30 mill’s too attractive to not take i guess

    1. I think it has more to do with Alpine never actually intending to field Zhou, but keeping an eye on Piastri for a seat at their own team.

    2. Piastri is an exceptional talent, Zhou isn’t. This is like Mercedes releasing Ocon to go to Renault because they know he won’t ever move into the Mercedes works team.

  4. agreed, it is a bit like Mercedes releasing Ocon to Renault, except that Ocon is still actually at Alpine and signed a three year deal.
    Alonso has signed for 2022.
    If Piastri stays with Alpine, the best he can hope for is to be a reserve driver with a few runs in FP1 during 2022.

    As for Zhou, I think he would do well in the Formula E next year

  5. Spending a year being test and reserve driver at Alpine, being mentored by Alonso is surely better than a year in a completely different car.

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