Oscar Piastri’s hopes of securing the last available spot on the Formula 1 network in 2022 seem to have taken another hit.
The Australian currently leads the FIA Formula 2 Championship in his rookie season with 36 points with two rounds of competition left.
It is an achievement that has caught the eye of those in the F1 herd, although there are few opportunities for the Alpine Academy member to take the plunge yet.
Only the drive along Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo Sauber is left, although team manager Frederic Vasseur has indicated that the 20-year-old’s chances are not strong.
“Oscar does a very good job of being very performant and consistent over the last few weekends, but as far as I know and I understand he is connected to Renault – or Alpine,” said Vasseur.
“I did not discuss with Alpine about this, but if you invest in a driver for all the junior series and have a long-term program with him, I can not see the point in letting him go to another team in F1,” he added.
“That it would be strange.”
Vasseur further explained that he is concerned that signing a driver linked to another team would only create problems on the track, especially at a time when F1 has to introduce new rules.
“When you take a young driver and with a new car and therefore you start a new journey for F1 and for the team,” he said.
“I think it would make a lot more sense to have the option to extend the contract — not a multi-year contract, but at least to make sure you don’t lose the driver after year one.”
Despite his reservations about the complexity of signing Piastri, Vasseur admitted that the Australian had shown he has the ability to drive in F1.
“He won in a row Formula Renault, F3 in the first year and now F2 – it is not done, F2, because there are still two events left, but certainly if you compare with the past that he is doing a very, very strong piece of work, ”said the Frenchman.
“It is crystal clear to me that he is probably one of the best in the field today.
“He did a good job last year too, struggled with Theo [Pourchaire] until the last event and he is one of the young kids who will definitely succeed in F1. ”
Also competing in Formula 2 this season, and a race winner, Pourchaire is already on the books at Sauber.
The 18-year-old joined the Sauber Academy in 2020, and currently sits in fifth place in the position, 58 down on his Australian rival.
It is therefore possible that despite his star class category, Piastri could find himself a victim of timing without available drives when he is ready to take the exam.
“Certainly every year the situation is different with a different number of seats in F1 and a different situation on the driver’s side,” Vasseur said.
“I think Renault is helping him do the steps between Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2, they support him.”
He suggested that a year on the sidelines in a reserve driver role or another year in F2 would not be “the end of the world”.
Vasseur had previously stated that a decision on who will collaborate with Bottas next season would be made in September after the Russian Grand Prix.
“We are seriously not in a hurry to make a decision,” he said.
“We have a couple of options on the table and we have to take the time to decide, but we are not in a hurry.
“The situation will not change over the next few days and we will make a decision soon.”