The reigning Formula 2 champion has been sidelined from any racing this season thanks to his Alpine Academy deal and the team having two race drivers in Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.
Instead he’s been placed in a beefed up test and development driver role that will include taking part in all tests and simulator sessions and sitting in on debriefs during race weekends.
That may suffice for 2022 however it’s unlikely the young Australian will be happy to spend another season on the sidelines in 2023.
Ocon still has three more seasons on his current deal including this one, which means the only way Piastri could land at Alpine is if Alonso, who is out of contract, is moved aside.
However, Alonso made it clear over the Australian Grand Prix weekend that he plans to continue racing for “two or three years”.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said he wasn’t surprised by Alonso’s comments and that it is too early in the season to be making decisions about the 2023 driver line-up.
He also said Alonso’s future doesn’t necessarily change the plan for Piastri.
“It’s normal for Fernando to not project himself only until the end of this year,” said Rossi.
“It’s normal and as long as he drives so well, if I were him I would just keep on driving.
“It’s a bit early in the season for us to position any driver anywhere in our team as well as in the other teams. So I didn’t make too much of that.
“We’re going to develop Oscar through the programme, it doesn’t change anything. Then we’ll make sure that… it’s not a question of if, but when Oscar steps into Formula 1 he will be as ready as possible. 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 taken to retain him for 2023, Rossi says Alpine is open to a loan deal elsewhere for Piastri.
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 think about it,” he said. “I’m not opposed to the solution.
“You understand I want to develop Oscar, I don’t want to leave him sitting on the bench waiting forever.
“He needs to be ready when the day comes. And the day will come because he’s very talented, he’s very worthy of one of the top 20 seats here. And I do believe he has the potential of being a future world champion, I’m persuaded of that. So he needs to be trained as much as he can in the meantime.
“[Looking at a loan has] always been a parameter for all of us. We knew last year that Fernando was performing. And it would be very surprising if suddenly during the winter he lost his magic.
“So let’s be realistic. It’s part of the scenarios we need to explore.”
Given Rossi believes Piastri has title-winning potential, the ideal scenario for the team would be getting Piastri back from any loan deal right as Alpine becomes a title-contending team.
“That’s the thing we discussed with him and [manager] Mark Webber,” he said. “I would love to have Oscar as my driver for the future Alpine when we get to the top of the podium.
“For me the ideal scenario is that he wins races and championships with us. That’s what we’re going to try and achieve.”
One complication for a loan deal could be Alpine’s current lack of customer power unit deal, although Rossi says it doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker.
“Our first thing was to get our house in order and get a PU that allows us to compete up the grid,” said Rossi.
“That’s done. Then we might have customer teams in the existing teams or new entrants will be very happy to consider that. It’s a natural order of things.
“Is it totally linked to the drivers? Of course it plays a role. But I would also flip this around and say I’m not against having collaborations with teams that don’t have my PU.”