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No French GP outing for Piastri

NEWS STORY
06/07/2022

Alpine boss, Otmar Szafnauer has dismissed speculation that Oscar Piastri could participate in the opening session at Paul Ricard later this month.

Having failed, to the surprise and disappointment of many, to secure a seat on the 2022 F1 grid, The Australian is left with the somewhat unfulfilling role of reserve driver.

Then, following Nicholas Latifi's continuing failure to make an impression at Williams there was talk of Piastri joining the Grove outfit, however this has been dismissed by both teams.

In recent weeks, it has been rumoured that Piastri will make his FP1 debut at the French Grand Prix later this month, replacing either Fernando Alonso or Esteban Ocon in opening practice, but this has now been ruled out.

"Free practice in France, that's not the plan," says Szafnauer. "Oscar will be running in free practice for us, but it'll be after the break."

The 2022 rules mandate that teams must run a rookie in two opening sessions this season, and as we reach the halfway point on the calendar, most have yet to run a rookie in even one.

It's believed that one of the reasons Piastri hasn't yet driven the A522 is due to the French team's constant upgrades, which need to be trialled by its regular race drivers.

Looking ahead, Szafnauer is unable to give any indication of Piastri's plans for 2023, admitting that much depends on whether Alonso continues.

"They're all linked and tied," says Szafnauer. "It's just a matter of timing, and we're not at that point yet.

"Like I said before, I think it was in May, that I was asked the question, we're going to start thinking about it around Silverstone time, and probably concluding something after the break. That's still the case.

"We haven't really started talking in detail with Fernando yet," he admitted. "We'll do that after the break."

While it seems criminal that Piastri remains sidelined, the fact is that Alonso is no journeyman, and as could be seen on Sunday is as hungry and determined as ever.

Consequently, speculation continues to link Piastri with Williams, where the youngster could complete a fascinating line-up if partnered with Alex Albon.

Another season for Alonso at Alpine whilst Piastri serves his apprenticeship at Grove, would set things up nicely for a George Russell style move up to the 'big team' in 2024.

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