Piastri speculation intensifies


There is increasing speculation linking Oscar Piastri with Nicholas Latifi's seat at Williams, possibly as early as next month's British Grand Prix.

Amidst mounting speculation the situation wasn't helped when the Australian posted a cryptic message on Instagram. Alongside a picture of Silverstone he wrote "driving here soon". However, Alpine subsequently revealed that the youngster is testing its 2021 car there today (Tuesday).

Having won the Formula Renault Eurocup, Formula 3 Championship and Formula 2 Championship in successive seasons, the Melbourne-born racer is regarded as one of the sport's hottest prospects.

However, though reserve driver at Alpine his climb to the top has suddenly ground to a halt because, quite simply, there isn't a seat available for him.

Furthermore, with Alpine looking to retain its current line-up for 2023, the Australian could find himself sidelined for a second season.

He also has a reserve driver role at McLaren, but even ignoring the fact that Alpine would have first call on his services, it doesn't appear as though there will be a vacancy for the youngster.

Then, over the Baku weekend, rumours linking Piastri with a move to Williams began to emerge, and while this initially focussed on the youngster replacing Nicholas Latifi next season, there is now talk that the Australian could be teammate to Alex Albon as early as Silverstone next month.

The Silverstone rumour emerged after it was claimed that Piastri has a clause in his Alpine contract that releases him should he not have been offered an F1 seat for 2023 by 30 June 2022. The day after, the 1 July, is the first day of the Silverstone weekend.

While Latifi's father, Michael Latifi is associated with a number of the sponsors adorning the Williams, Sofina Foods, of which he is chairman and CEO, has not been seen on the Grove outfit's car since the acquisition of the team by Dorilton Capital in 2019.

Currently nobody is talking, and though Piastri has revealed that he has had a seat fitting, this could be explained away as the Australian having secured a reserve role as he has at McLaren.

For his part, Latifi is having a torrid time, and after 8 races in classified 21st in the standings, behind Nico Hulkenberg who has only contested two races.

"I think he has struggled to get to grips with it a little bit more than Alex, I suppose," said Williams head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, "Alex came in quite fresh, not knowing what to expect necessarily from either Williams or the new regulation set. His mind-set was just to jump in and get on with it and deal with it.

"Nicholas tends to think about things much more and, as soon as things aren't quite as he wants them, then he does struggle a little bit more.

"So we're still coming to terms with exactly how we set the car up around the tyres for any particular circuit to allow him to drive the car as he wants. It's just not quite clicking for him yet.

"Obviously we're working very hard with him to work out exactly how we get the best out of it."

"I definitely feel I‘m under pressure," said Latifi at the weekend, "that will be the same for any driver who doesn't have a contract for the following year.

"I know I have to improve, I want to improve, I'm not happy with the way things are right now, so I just try and keep making steps to improve it."

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Published: 14/06/2022
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