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Piastri will be on 2023 grid insists Szafnauer

NEWS STORY
19/06/2022

Alpine boss, Otmar Szafnauer insists that Oscar Piastri will be on the F1 grid in 2023, though he refuses to say if Australian will make his debut even sooner.

Days after the reigning F2 champ enjoyed an F1 test for Alpine at Silverstone, team boss Szafnauer admitted that the Australian is heading for F1.

"Oscar's a bright young talent coming through, as we all know," said Szafnauer at the team principal's press conference. "He's been testing last year's car at more than just Silverstone, he's done a few others, and we'll do some more in the future. He's doing very well.

"We're contracted with Oscar and we have some options on him," he replied, when asked about the youngster's future. "So, there's no real need to hurry that. 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."

Asked directly if Piastri would be on the grid next year, Szafnauer replied: "Yes!".

Asked about the rumours linking the youngster with an early move to Williams to replace Nicholas Latifi, Szafnauer said: "Yeah... I've read the same.

"It's hard for me to predict the future on that," he added, "so, I'd like not to. I don't have any more knowledge than you do."

The Alpine boss had been spotted talking with his Williams counterpart, Jost Capito, and amidst talk of a move, Szafnauer was asked if Piastri was ready to jump in at the deep end with Alpine or would benefit from time with the Grove outfit.

"I think both are good," he replied. "I can't predict what will happen next year and the informal chat at Williams was... we have a mutual friend in Michael Andretti and he happened to be down there. So, I went down and Jost knows him well from his days of living in Detroit and I just recently learned that we're neighbours when Jost was living in Detroit. I just didn't know him. So we had an American-style chat."

Asked (again) if it is 100% certain that the Australian will be on the grid, Szafnauer said: "We don't talk about the details of our contracts with the drivers, that's something that we never do. So as much as I'd like to tell you, I don't think I can. But when I do say yes, you know, that's, that's the plan."

When Capito was subsequently asked about the deal Williams agreed with Red Bull over Alex Albon, the German was quick to react.

"We didn't do a deal with Red Bull on Alex, we did a deal with Alex on Alex," he snapped.

"I think Oscar for sure is ready to go into Formula 1," he added, "I think he's one on the list for sure."

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