Formula Two leader Oscar Piastri will switch his focus to Formula One next week when he tests for Alpine in Abu Dhabi before starting a new role as the Renault-owned team’s reserve.
The 20-year-old Australian is set to take the F2 title at the first attempt after doing the same in Formula Three last year and winning the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019.
“It’s almost like my first official day in my new job for next year,” said the Melbourne-born driver, tipped to become the next Australian to break into Formula One after McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that the team would keep Piastri busy next year.
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“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,” he said.
“We’ll do a bespoke testing programme for him in Formula One cars, to make sure he really, really ramps up.”
Alpine has Esteban Ocon under contract until 2024, while double world champion Fernando Alonso is signed to the end of next year.
“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,” said Budkowski of driver options for 2023.
“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 One car and stay in the Alpine family.”