Motor racing: Australian 'huge talent' Piastri wins F2 title but must wait for F1 seat

Australian Oscar Piastri won the Formula Two title in Abu Dhabi on Dec 11, 2021. PHOTO: OSCARPIASTRI/TWITTER

LONDON (REUTERS) - Australian Oscar Piastri won the Formula Two title in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (Dec 11), his third successive crown on the road to Formula One but the Alpine Academy driver will have to wait to take the next big step.

The 20-year-old Melbourne-born driver went from 10th to third for the Prema team in a reverse-grid sprint race won by Indian Jehan Daruvala at Yas Marina to take the title with two races to spare.

Piastri, who has built up an unsurpassable 57.5-point lead after five wins and five pole positions, won the Formula Three title at the first attempt last year and the Formula Renault EuroCup in 2019.

He follows current Formula One drivers George Russell and Charles Leclerc as winners of back-to-back F3 or GP3 and F2 titles.

China's Zhou Guanyu, third in the F2 standings behind Piastri and Russian Robert Schwartzman, will drive for F1 team Alfa Romeo next season alongside Valtteri Bottas, who is moving over from Mercedes.

With no vacancies on the F1 starting grid, the Australian will be Alpine reserve driver next season, supporting race regulars Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon and fully embedded within the Renault-owned team.

"He is a huge talent. He possesses speed, race craft, maturity and has huge potential for the future," said Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi.

"He is a valuable member of the Alpine team and we are looking forward to putting more of his talent into Formula One now in the next natural progression in his journey."

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said this month that Piastri would be doing a lot of development and simulator work as well as track running next year.

"We'll do a bespoke testing programme for him in Formula One cars, to make sure he really, really ramps up," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.