Formula 1, Oscar Piastri likely to drive in French Grand Prix practice one for Alpine, Otmar Szafnauer comments

Australian racing prodigy Oscar Piastri will reportedly make his Formula 1 race weekend debut with Alpine at next month’s French Grand Prix.

In a new addition to the sporting regulations, teams are now mandated to give their rookie drivers, who have participated in less than two F1 races in their career, a seat on at least two occasions during first practice in 2022.

The rule was introduced to allow the next generation of F1 drivers to gain valuable race experience, with Nyck de Vries already receiving an opportunity in Alex Albon’s Williams, while now suspended driver Juri Vips stepped into Sergio Perez’s Red Bull.

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Now Autosport is reporting Piastri could be next to earn some track time.

As Alpine’s reserve driver, Piastri’s two planned outings are seen as key parts of his development, along with the extensive running of last year’s A521 at a variety of tracks.

Asked when fans could expect their first glimpse of Piastri behind the wheel, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer did not give an exact race weekend, but said it would be “soon”.

“We can tell you it won’t be Silverstone [because the team are introducing another update package],” Szafnauer said as reported by Autosport.

“But it’s not far off. The answer is we plan to put him in the car. It won’t be that far off, but we haven’t announced it yet.

Given that Austria – the grand prix following Silverstone – includes a sprint race in which the drivers head straight into qualifying after first practice, it appears Piastri is most likely to make his debut at Alpine’s home track, Paul Ricard.

Piastri is widely rumoured to be replacing Nicholas Latifi at Williams next year.

Speaking at the Canadian Grand Prix, Szafnauer was asked if he believed Piastri would hold a space on the grid in 2023, which he confirmed he did.

“We don’t talk about the details of our contracts with the drivers and that’s something that we never do,” Szafnauer said. “So as much as I’d like to tell you, I don’t think I can.

“But when I do say yes, that’s the plan.”

If Piastri were to join Williams, it could involve the team switching from Mercedes to Renault engines.

“Oscar’s a bright young talent coming through, as we all know,” Szafnauer said.

“We’re contracted with Oscar and we have some options on him. So, there’s no real need to hurry that, so we’ll take our time and at the right moment, within the silly season, we’ll have a look around and make those types of decisions.”

“And he’s been testing last year’s car. At more than just Silverstone. He’s done a few others and will do some more in the future. And he’s doing very well.”

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