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Alpine: No shootout between Alonso, Piastri for 2023 F1 seat

Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri won’t face a “direct comparison” over a potential Alpine Formula 1 seat for 2023, according to executive director Marcin Budkowski.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521

Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Alpine announced at the end of last month that Formula 2 championship leader Piastri would serve as its official reserve driver next season after missing out on an F1 graduation.

Piastri is set to leave F2 after just a single season, and is on course to win the championship at the first attempt. The Australian extended his advantage to 40 points with two rounds remaining by taking his fourth straight pole position on Friday in Jeddah.

Piastri has no racing programme planned for next year in order to focus on the Alpine reserve role, but is targeting a move up to F1 in 2023.

Alpine signed Esteban Ocon to a long-term deal earlier this year, running to the end of 2024, but two-time world champion Alonso is out of contract at the end of next season.

Should Alonso wish to extend his time in F1 beyond 2022 after enjoying his comeback this season, it may leave Alpine looking for alternatives to find a seat for Piastri.

While Budkowski acknowledged it was a “good question” what would happen to Piastri if Alonso continued beyond 2022, he said it was “not about a direct comparison” between the two drivers.

“How are we going to make that decision? Well, let's see next year first,” said Budkowski.

“If the car is quick and Fernando is happy, then we'll have one type of discussion. If that's not the case, then we'll have a different type of discussion.

“But certainly we have a great talent with Oscar in the wings, and if there's no seat available at Alpine, I’m sure we'll find a solution for him to drive a Formula 1 car and stay in the Alpine family.”

Alpine team has high opinions of Piastri (left, with CEO Laurent Rossi in Qatar)

Alpine team has high opinions of Piastri (left, with CEO Laurent Rossi in Qatar)

Photo by: Alpine F1 Team

Piastri had been linked with a potential move to Alfa Romeo, which held the final F1 seat for 2022 prior to announcing Guanyu Zhou last month. Zhou has been part of the Alpine Academy for three seasons, but will cut ties upon joining Alfa Romeo.

The 20-year-old previously said that he knew an F1 move was not realistic for next season, and that he personally never held any talks with Alfa Romeo about the drive.

Piastri is set to enjoy an extensive testing programme with Alpine next season, and is also likely to appear in FP1 sessions under the new regulations that require young drivers to be used at least twice in the season.

Budkowski felt confident that Piastri would play an important role at Alpine next season, supporting the main race team as well as continuing his own development.

“Oscar’s announcement, beyond being an announcement as such that he will be a reserve driver, comes with an awful lot of other things,” Budkowski said.

“Oscar is going to be very involved in a development, in the simulator. He's already doing some of this, but not as much as we'd like because obviously he's racing in Formula 2, and he still needs to win the championship this year.

“But he's going to be doing a lot of development work, a lot of simulator work, spending time in the factory [working] very close with the engineers. He's going to do quite a lot of on-track running as well.”

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