Oscar Piastri: Alpine promote Australian driver to replace Fernando Alonso for Formula 1 2023
Oscar Piastri earns Alpine promotion as French outfit pick highly-rated reserve driver to replace Fernando Alonso; "A bright and rare talent," says Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer; team act swiftly to confirm new driver after Aston Martin announced Alonso for 2023
Last Updated: 02/08/22 7:27pm
Oscar Piastri has been confirmed at Alpine for the 2023 Formula 1 season, where the Australian will debut as Fernando Alonso's replacement.
Alpine were left with an unexpected spot free in their line-up after two-time world champion Alonso agreed a shock move to Aston Martin, and have promoted from within to source Esteban Ocon's next team-mate.
Piastri, 21, will arrive in F1 with a stellar reputation, having followed in Charles Leclerc and George Russell's footsteps by winning the Formula Three and Formula Two crowns, the latter in dominant fashion in 2021.
But with Alpine's line-up filled for 2022 and other avenues closed, Piastri took a 'year off' racing as the team's reserve driver.
Alpine were keen to get him onto the grid for next season and Alonso's exit - with the Spaniard replacing Sebastian Vettel - opened a door in-house, and Piastri will have a chance to show his talent in a competitive seat.
Alpine are currently fourth in the constructors' standings, four points ahead of midfield rivals McLaren.
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"Oscar is a bright and rare talent," said Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer. "We are proud to have nurtured and supported him through the difficult pathways of the junior formulae.
"Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula 1.
"As our reserve driver he has been exposed to the team at the track, factory and testing where he has shown the maturity, promise and speed to ensure his promotion to our second seat alongside Esteban.
"Together, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships."
Piastri will be the second Australian on the grid after Daniel Ricciardo, who coincidentally was linked with a shock return to the Renault-owned Alpine team.
Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz
"There is the prospect that Alpine didn't want to continue with Alonso and wanted to promote Oscar Piastri.
"I haven't seen any evidence of that - it's not impossible - but I haven't seen it. All the race team absolutely adore Fernando and he can do amazing things with the car.
"So I don't really think it was Alpine's choice to let him go. But then with Piastri lined up, it's not really an issue for them.
"They've got the guy they've been wanting to promote, they thought they were going to place him somewhere else, and that's not going to happen.
"So the drivers Piastri was going to potentially replace can breathe a sigh of relief."
Szafnauer says he only found out about Alonso's move to Aston Martin when he read the official press release.
Szafnauer was confident of tying the Spaniard down to a new deal, saying his team had guaranteed Alonso a seat for 2023 with an option to extend for another year.
He told reporters on a Zoom call: "Obviously when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested [but] it was the first confirmation I had.
"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place. I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, that we were very close [to a new deal].
"So yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question (to Alonso). And I was told: 'No, no, I haven't signed anything'. So I was a bit surprised.
"We offered a one-plus-one deal. And we discussed with Fernando that: 'Look, if next year at this time you're performing at the same level, of course, we will take you and that could have carried on'. But I think he wanted more certainty independent of performance."
Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle...
"It appears that Alpine couldn't or wouldn't offer Alonso a two-year deal, and his Aston Martin deal is officially described as multi-year.
"He's also been fairly underwhelmed at how punchy his team-mate Esteban Ocon has been towards him in combat at Alpine rather than turning all their guns on their rivals.
"Fernando is a force of nature on and off the track and he will push the team very hard. He's mellowed a little these days but there could easily be fireworks as he joins the Stroll family 'firm'.
"I remember interviewing Fernando on the 2018 Abu Dhabi grid and he was very convincing that it really was the end of his F1 career, but now he'll be on the grid until at least the end of 2024 at the age of 43 and with 400 F1 races under his right foot. Extraordinary."