RACE DEBRIEF

    Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri will spend 2022 as Alpine’s reserve driver but this year won’t be a simple case of the Australian sitting on the sidelines, as the team’s former Executive Director Marcin Budkowski explained.

    Alpine will this season field two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso alongside Esteban Ocon for the second year running, which means that reigning F2 champ Piastri will not have an F1 seat. However, it seems that Alpine are keen to prepare the Australian – who tested for the squad in the post-season Yas Marina session – to race in Formula 1.

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    “Oscar is going to be very involved in the simulator,” said Budkowski, speaking last year ahead of his departure from the team. “He is going to be doing a lot of development work, a lot of simulator work, spending time in the factory, very close with the engineers, he’s going to be doing quite a lot of track running as well.

    “The regulations [in 2022] imposes to run him at two free practice sessions. We’ll do a bespoke testing programme for him in Formula 1 cars, to make sure he really, really ramps up. We'll develop Oscar a lot, beyond just taking him to the races as our third driver.”

    New F2 champion Oscar Piastri targeting Formula 1 drive for 2023

    Alpine will be presented with a difficult choice in the near future then, as veteran Alonso has shown nothing but complete commitment to compete in F1 and team mate Ocon is on a long-term deal with the squad. Budkowski addressed that dilemma last year.

    “How are we going to make that decision? Well, let’s see next year first. If the car is quick and Fernando is happy, then we will have one type of discussion. If that’s not the case then we will have a different type of discussion.

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    Piastri tested the Alpine A521 at Abu Dhabi in December

    “But certainly we have a great talent with Oscar in the wings and if there is no seat available at Alpine I’m sure we will find a solution for him to drive a Formula 1 car and stay in the Alpine family,” added Budkowski.

    READ MORE: Alpine part ways with Non-Executive Director and four-time world champion Alain Prost

    Alpine announced in January that Budkowski had departed the team and the team are yet to announce his replacement – while Alpine have also recently parted ways with Non-Executive Director and four-time world champion Alain Prost.