The reigning Formula 2 champion has been sidelined from all races this season thanks to his deal with the Alpine Academy and team of two racers in Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.
Instead, he was placed in a beefed up test and development driver role, which includes attending all tests and simulator sessions and attending debriefings during race weekends.
That may be enough for 2022, but it’s unlikely the young Australian will happily spend another season on the sidelines in 2023.
Ocon has three more seasons left on his current contract, including this one, meaning Piastri could only end up at Alpine if Alonso, who is out of contract, is brushed aside.
However, Alonso made it clear at the Australian Grand Prix weekend that he plans to race “two or three years”.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said he was not surprised by Alonso’s comments and said it was still too early in the season to make decisions about the 2023 rider line-up.
He also said Alonso’s future doesn’t necessarily change the plan for Piastri.
“It’s normal that Fernando doesn’t extrapolate until the end of this year,” said Rossi.
“It’s normal and as long as he drives that well I would just keep going if I were him.
“It’s a bit early in the season for us to position every rider somewhere on our team and also on the other teams. So I didn’t make too much of it.
“We will develop Oscar through the program, it doesn’t change anything. Then we’ll make sure that… it’s not a question of if, but when Oscar comes into F1 he’ll be as ready as he can be.” That’s the only thing that matters to me.”
Oscar Piastri, Alpine A521
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
If Alonso continues to perform this season and a decision is made to keep him for 2023, Rossi says Alpine is open to a loan deal for Piastri elsewhere.
However, he would only do so if there was a clear path back to Alpine.
“If it’s a solution that allows me to get him back at some point, I might consider it,” he said. “I’m not against the solution.
“You understand, I want to develop Oscar, I don’t want to keep him sitting on the bench and waiting forever.
“He has to be ready when the day comes. And the day will come because he is very talented, he very much deserves a top 20 place here. And I think he has the potential to be a future world champion, I’m convinced of that, so in the meantime he needs to be trained as much as possible.
“[Looking at a loan has] has always been a parameter for all of us. We knew Fernando was performing last year. And it would be very surprising if he suddenly lost his magic in winter.
“So let’s be realistic. It’s part of the scenarios we need to examine.”
Given that Rossi believes Piastri has title-winning potential, the ideal scenario for the team would be to get Piastri back from any loan deal if Alpine becomes a title contender.
“We discussed that with him and [manager] Mark Webber,” he said. “I would love to have Oscar as my driver for the future Alpine if we are on the top of the podium.
“For me, the ideal scenario is that he wins races and championships with us. That’s what we want to achieve.”
A complication for a loan deal could be Alpine’s current lack of customer contracts for power units, though Rossi says it needn’t be a deal-breaker.
“The first thing we had to do was get our house in order and get a PU that would allow us to compete on the grid,” said Rossi.
“That’s done. Then maybe we have customer teams in the existing teams or newcomers will be very happy to consider that. It’s a natural order of things.
“Is it totally to do with the drivers? Of course it matters. But I would also turn that around and say I’m not against teaming up with teams that don’t have my PU.”