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Ocon: "Just a matter of time" before Piastri lands F1 seat

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon has backed the team's reserve driver Oscar Piastri to soon join him on the Formula 1 grid despite being snubbed for 2022.

Oscar Piastri, Reserve Driver Alpine F1

Oscar Piastri, Reserve Driver Alpine F1

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Piastri currently leads the Formula 2 standings after taking the FIA F3 title at his first attempt last year with Prema.

But despite his rapid rise the Australian will spend 2022 on the sidelines, becoming Alpine's reserve driver after missing out on a potential F1 seat.

Piastri was said to be in the frame for a seat at Alfa Romeo, but that berth went to his F2 rival and fellow Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou instead.

Instead, the Australian will not be racing next year to fully focus on his reserve role, which will involve him either travelling to races or supporting the team from the simulator in Enstone.

But Piastri's Alpine teammate Ocon, who also experienced a rocky road on his way to becoming an established F1 driver, thinks it is "just a matter of time" before Piastri will join him on the grid.

After winning the GP3 Series title in 2015 Mercedes protege Ocon was placed in DTM by the manufacturer. He was also loaned out to Renault as a reserve driver before making his F1 debut halfway through 2016 at Manor. 

He then went to Force India/Racing Point for a two-year stint, but when the team dropped him for Lance Stroll in 2019 the Frenchman became Mercedes' reserve driver, sitting out an entire season until he landed a race seat at Renault, now Alpine. 

"[I had] quite a few years watching from the sidelines, but I think it’s just a matter of time [that] Oscar will join us on the grid," Ocon said.

"He’s more than talented, he’s won pretty much all the titles up until now, of course he still has F2 to go."

Oscar Piastri, Renault F1 R.S.18

Oscar Piastri, Renault F1 R.S.18

Photo by: Alpine

Drawing parallels from his time as a Mercedes reserve, Ocon believes it will still be useful for 20-year-old Piastri to ease his way into F1 through a third driver role to help his preparation for an eventual race seat.

"Of course, waiting is never a fantastic thing for us drivers, but the best is obviously for him to watch how everything is going," he explained.

"That’s what I did on my side, just trying to gather as much information as I could and once you get in the seat you know how everything works from the inside.

"And that’s what I’ve done, so I’m sure he will probably do the same." 

Ocon also knows Zhou through the Chinese driver's Alpine junior role and believes it won't take long for him to get up to speed at Alfa Romeo.

"It’s fantastic to see him getting to Formula 1," he said. 

"I’ve worked with him obviously quite a bit this year, shared an FP1 with him in Austria as well.

"He was developing very fast in the F1 car, so I don’t think it will take him long to get up to speed, but I definitely wish him the best." 

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