PIASTRI AT THE FORMULA 1 RACE AT THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX

By Bruce Williams

Oscar Piastri looks set to make his highly anticipated Formula 1 debut sooner rather than later as preparations are underway for the 21-year-old Australian to be on the starting grid for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone from 1-2. July 3.

Piastri is set to enter the second Williams FW44, replacing Canadian Nicholas Latifi, who will make his final start with the team at its home race this weekend.

Piastri, the reigning FIA Formula 2 champion, was due to make his FP1 debut for Alpine over the British Grand Prix weekend, his likely debut with Williams clears the way for another of the drivers in the Alpine Junior Academy Aussie Jack Doohan to make his training debut at Silverstone.

It has been reported that Piastri has already had a seat installed at Williams – his fourth team seat in 2022, joining Alpine, McLaren and Mercedes. Yes, Mercedes!

He is seeking placement at Grove with Williams under a complicated deal involving car giants Mercedes and Nissan-Renault.

After several impressive tests with Alpine, the move will allow Alpine team bosses to assess Piastri in a suitable racing situation, giving him four races (England, Austria, France and Hungary), ahead of the month-long summer break. , date on which he will decide the future of the double world champion Fernando Alonso.

Alonso is asking for a two-year extension to his current contract, with the Spaniard making it clear he wants to continue in F1.

“I don’t want to think about stopping because I feel like I’m still better than the others, and until someone comes along and starts doing things that I can’t do with the car anymore, he there’s no reason to leave,” Alonso said.

Keeping Alonso would put Alpine in a difficult position vis-à-vis Piastri, as the contractual option to keep him expires at the end of June and can only be triggered if the French team guarantees the young Australian a race seat for 2023 and at the end of June. -of the.

Oscar Piastri is set to make his Formula 1 debut at the British Grand Prix driving for Williams

Piastri manager Mark Webber has reportedly put considerable pressure on Alpine to secure Piastri a full F1 program next year, with the team having long-term plans for the gifted Australian and not wanting to lose him.

This led Rossi to start negotiating a deal with Webber that will keep Piastri as an Alpine rider, allowing the French team to loan him out to another team, possibly for several years, depending on his Alonso decision.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi told AUTO ACTION at the Australian Grand Prix: “Oscar is something else.

“He’s one of the future champions of Formula 1. He’s extremely smart and mature for his age. Like extremely smart!

“I would love to have Oscar as a driver for the future of Alpine F1, and that is what we are working towards.”

Piastri is in demand as a reserve driver, for McLaren he has undertaken full race preparation for Monaco, including extensive simulation work, in case Lando Norris is too ill with his much publicized episode of tonsillitis.

Canadian Latifi has come under increasing pressure after a series of poor performances this season, compounded by team-mate Alex Albon who scored points in several races, while Latifi remains at zero.

Latifi struggled more than in his first two F1 seasons, well outpacing Albon and crashing with alarming regularity.

Williams team principal Jost Capito believes the situation is “a consequence of what happened after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year, when he suffered a lot of online abuse , including some very disturbing death threats.”

It’s a head game; [Latifi] needs to feel comfortable and confident, so we’re doing everything we can to get him back in the right frame of mind,” Capito said recently.

The potential drive at Williams comes with complications for Alpine and Mercedes, as Latifi brings considerable funding to the struggling team.

Even though the Canadian is linked to the owners of Williams (his mother’s family are said to be part of the group of investors behind Dorilton Capital), Capito believes it is in the interest of the team to have a strong driving couple. .

It could also be that Mercedes is offering a cut-cost engine program to Williams to fit Piastri into an F1 car.

Although on the face of it this seems like a ridiculous suggestion, it dates back to a complicated deal between the two automotive giants of Renault and Mercedes that saw Renault/Nissan Navara-powered pick-ups redesigned as Mercedes utes, the X class.

That deal was canceled by Mercedes last year, which has soured relations between the two car giants, and it could be a small way to calm the waters.

Ahead of any announcement, Piastri will take part in a two-day test at Silverstone, jumping behind the wheel of the A521 from tonight as part of his reserve driver role with the Enstone team and in preparation for the place. 2023 previously targeted on the F1 grid.

A few weeks ago Piastri tested a 2021 Alpine at the Red Bull Ring in Austria

The British Grand Prix could mark a piece of history, if Jack Doohan and Piastri appear in FP1 it will be the first time since 1977 that three Australians have been on track in a Formula 1 session.

Ironically, the last time was at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix and saw Alan Jones (Shadow), Vern Schuppan (Surtees) and little known Australian driver Brian McGuire take to the track in an attempt to qualify for the race .

McGuire was driving a privateer Williams FW04, but failed to qualify for the Grand Prix.

Sadly, the Victorian died a few weeks later when he was fatally injured in a Formula Balance practice crash at Brands Hatch.

For more motorsport news, see the current issue of Auto Action.

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