Written by Ashlee Josias, Edited by Ishani Aziz
Oscar Piastri’s Formula 1 seat -or lack thereof- has been seen as one of the great injustices in F1 this season. Piastri consecutively won Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2 – which previously only George Russell and Charles Leclerc have been able to achieve. Piastri himself commented on his F1 seat during a pre-race show: “Next year we should be okay”. His future is one of the main concerns this season, and as the current grid stands there are about three main routes he could take to lead him to an F1 debut.
Route 1: Alpine
Piastri is an Alpine academy driver, so logically that should put him first in line for a vacancy. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. Alonso recently stated that he would like to remain in the sport for a few more years, and will only begin talks concerning this in the summer. This puts Alpine in the hot seat with Alonso remaining uncertain, they will need to start looking at replacements in the near future. With Piastri being among the best young drivers, and already familiar with Alpine, it puts him in a favourable position. If the team doesn’t seize his talent soon, they risk losing their most valuable asset in this upcoming transfer season.
Route 2: Williams
The rumour mill has been running wild concerning Williams. Firstly Williams using Renault as an engine supplier, and secondly that Nicholas Latifi could be replaced. It’s possible that Alpine (similar to Red bull) could loan Oscar out to Williams while keeping their ties with the driver.
The Williams route becomes more complicated with the involvement of Nyck De Vries, who has direct ties with the current Williams engine supplier, Mercedes, being part of their driver programme. This could oppose Piastri’s possible seat with them, as Mercedes could advise Williams to sign De Vries. Given that this already occurred in 2022 when the ex-Red Bull driver Alex Albon was signed, it is entirely possible that Williams could do this again. On the other hand if Williams does decide to cut ties with Mercedes, Piastri could find himself with a Williams seat.
Route 3: McLaren
This is perhaps the most outlandish of the hypotheses so far, but not to be ruled out. Earlier this year Piastri became a reserve driver for McLaren, when Alpine allowed him to drive an F1 car wherever he could. Meanwhile, McLaren seemed to be unhappy with Daniel Ricciardo’s results this season, and Zak Brown was increasingly vocal on behalf of the team that the seats could change. With no concrete suggestions as to who would potentially take Ricciardo’s seat, Piastri has naturally been included in a list of talented drivers that could make their F1 debut with McLaren.
Oscar Piastri is an undeniable talent, who most certainly has proven that he deserves a seat on the F1 grid. Should we see him without a debut in the 2023 season, it could be detrimental to a career that has barely just begun. With the decision ultimately in the hands of Alpine, one can only hope they do the right thing with his young talent.