Oscar Piastri has revealed he was informed by Alpine halfway through his title-winning rookie Formula 2 season in 2021 that he would not get a 2022 Formula 1 seat.
The Australian earned his place in the Renault Sport Academy by winning the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup, then was rewarded with his first F1 test alongside other Renault juniors late in 2020 after becoming FIA Formula 3 champion.
Renault rebranded as Alpine for 2021, and management changes at the team led to a conflict of approaches with how to run its academy. Piastri was Alpine’s highest performing junior that year, but held a decreasing commerical value as Groupe Renault reduced its presence in Australia. Renault also had no customer teams using its engines in F1 to loan Piastri to.
As a result, F2 champion Piastri spent 2022 on the sidelines as Alpine’s reserve driver while his manager Mark Webber orchestrated a move to McLaren for 2023.
“It was tough [not getting an F1 seat for 2022],” said Piastri on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “Firstly, any racing driver wants to be racing as much as they can, and being in that position where the rules – because I’d won F2 – said that I couldn’t repeat F2, I quite literally had no more junior categories to race.
“So that was I guess nice, a nice problem to have in one way, but still a problem nonetheless. And I found out more or less halfway through my F2 season that I wouldn’t be making the step up to F1 the next year, no matter what I did.”
Piastri took two races in F2 to become a winner and points leader, and at round two in Monaco claimed two podiums on his first time racing on a street circuit. He made the podium again in Baku, then returned to the points lead at Silverstone only to be told his F1 dream for 2022 was over.
“It was tough to take. [F2] that year was only eight rounds, and four rounds into the season I’d just taken my first pole and the championship lead, so to then find out I’m not going to be making up the jump to F1 next year regardless of what I do from now, it hurt.
“Especially initially, but I think if anything it made me almost more determined to go ‘I’m going to win this’ and make myself have the issue of not having to race F2 again. That was ultimately what I wanted to do, was to put myself into that position of saying the reason I’m not racing is because I’ve won the championship and I can’t race it again.
“That’s what I really wanted to try and do. So it hurt, but as time went on I was more at ease with that, and we came up with the deal to become reserve driver last year. Which I guess given the circumstances was the best that we could do, with some private testing, but it still hurt.”