Oscar Piastri will finally get his opportunity in Formula 1 next season, as the 2021 Formula 2 World Champion makes his highly anticipated move from being Alpine’s reserve driver to replacing fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
Piastri is arguably the highest-rated driver for the future, with a number of teams having had their eyes on the young star, including, Red Bull.
The 21-year-old has sat in the Alpine garage this season but will switch to McLaren, following the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board concluding that the Australian wasn’t contracted to the French side for next season.
Following Fernando Alonso announcing his move to Aston Martin, Alpine announced that Piastri would be replacing the Spaniard; however, the Aussie denied this and added that he won’t be driving for the Enstone-based team next season.
Alpine were certain that Piastri was contracted to them, especially after it was revealed that he’d signed a deal at the start of July to replace Ricciardo.
This resulted in the CRB having to meet to decide whether Piastri could move to McLaren or not, with the board having concluded that he was allowed to move to the Woking-based team.
With this now in the past, it’s been revealed that Red Bull boss Christian Horner once rejected the opportunity to sign Piastri, who also won the F3 World Championship in 2020.
Horner revealed on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast that he had the chance to sign Piastri whilst he was driving in Formula 4 and Formula Renault with Arden, the team owned by Horner and his father.
The Red Bull boss admitted it’s something he “regrets”, especially as the Australian has already gone on to achieve so much.
“There was an opportunity for Red Bull to look at him at the time and we didn’t take up that option, which is something that I regret,” Horner admitted on the podcast.
“What he went on to achieve is phenomenal, in Formula 3 and Formula 2.”
On the podcast, Horner was obviously asked for his opinion on the Alpine/McLaren saga, with the Brit suggesting that it’s “difficult to judge” but that it wouldn’t have happened if he was a Red Bull driver.
“Now, if he’d have been a driver here, there is no way that he wouldn’t have been under lock and key for a period in time. I wasn’t party [to the situation], it’s difficult to judge what was promised or reneged on and so on, but it certainly was unexpected – probably from several areas.”
McLaren’s dynamic next season will be fascinating, especially given the fact that Norris is regarded equally highly in the paddock.
Norris has previously gotten on extremely well with his team-mates; however, it’ll be interesting to see if this continues when alongside someone like Piastri, who could possibly be faster than the British driver.
Horner thinks Piastri is “very capable”, but that he has to learn to deal with the “immense” expectations surrounding him.
“[Piastri is] a great driver. The only problem he now has to deal with is [that] the expectation on him will be immense,” added Horner.
“He’s going to have to get in and deliver against Lando, which is no mean feat. But you either sink or swim in this business. He’s a very, very capable driver, [so] I’m sure he’s going to do very well.”