One of the hottest driving prospects to grace the Formula 1 paddock is about to make his entrance on the top of the league, following a breathtaking 2021 Formula 2 campaign.
His season caught the eyes of the F1 paddock throughout 2021, as his name was frequently tossed around regarding speculation of driver changes for the upcoming season.
Unfortunately, Piastri won’t have a seat for 2022, although his current position is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for an eventual permanent seat.
2021 F2 season
Piastri was welcomed to the F2 paddock having won the Formula 3 competition in 2020, and in turn he produced one of the most remarkable performances the circuit had seen.
He comes away from the season with an equal, or better F2 status than current F1 drivers that have funnelled through the system.
A revised calendar for the 2021 F2 season saw eight rounds, which scheduled two sprint races and a feature race each round.
Piastri’s season didn’t begin as well as he would’ve liked, as he only claimed one sprint race win from the opening four rounds – coming in round one at Bahrain.
He achieved his first F2 pole position in the round four feature race in Great Britain, managing to translate it into third-place finish.
However, Piastri turned up the heat in the second half of the season. The young Aussie convincingly dominated his competition week in, week out.
Piastri took out pole position in the final four feature races of the season – in Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. He continued his form from Great Britain, ultimately taking home the final five feature race pole positions.
The Aussie went on to win the remaining four feature races where he claimed pole, as well as the second sprint race in Saudi Arabia, extending his lead to his competition each round.
Another podium finish for Piastri in the first sprint race in Abu Dhabi allowed him to stretch an unassailable lead on his rivals to claim the 2021 F2 championship with two races left.
With nothing riding on the final feature race of the season, Piastri kept a cool head, setting up a flawless finish to a perfect season with a fifth straight pole and fourth successive feature race win.
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Piastri by numbers
Throughout the course of the season, Piastri racked up numbers comparable to current F1 drivers. Stuffing the charts he attained five feature race pole positions, three feature race fastest laps and four sprint race fastest laps, four feature race wins and two sprint race wins.
His tally led him to the F2 championship with a total of 252.5 points, 60.5 more points than his closest rival and teammate Robert Schwartzman in second.
All wasn’t lost for Schwartzman however, as his consistency allowed the pair to compellingly claim the Constructor’s Championship for the Prema Powerteam. They finished 156.5 points ahead of second-placed UNI-Virtuosi Racing pair Guanyu Zhou and Felipe Drugovich.
Comparison to past F2 champions
Now that Piastri has imprinted his name within the history books of F2, it begs the question of how he stacks up against the other F2 champions who have left their mark on the competition.
2017: Charles Leclerc
2017 champion Charles Leclerc had potentially the most dominant season the F2 has seen. Nonetheless, the Monegasque driver stacked up similar results to Piastri in terms of race wins and pole positions.
He won the championship by a landslide 72 points, earning himself a seat at the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in 2018. Leclerc was promoted to Ferrari the following year and is now the forefront of their operations.
2018: George Russell
2018 witnessed the rise of British driver, George Russell, who also convincingly took out the championship by a colossal 68 points. Once again, with similar F2 numbers to Piastri, Russell has shown his potential each season since attaining his F2 glory.
Russell joined Williams Racing in 2019, improving each year during his three-year tenure. When an available seat opened at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team for the 2022 season, all eyes were on him to make the shift.
He will now race alongside seven-time World Driver’s Champion, Lewis Hamilton, in 2022.
2019: Nyck de Vries
The 2019 F2 champion Nyck de Vries won the championship by 52 points over current Williams driver Nicholas Latifi. Yet, unlike recent counterparts, de Vries took a different route in his driving career.
The Dutch international didn’t walk directly into F1, instead racing in other classes before 2022.
During 2019 and 2020, de Vries competed on and off within Formula E, while racing in F2 in 2019 and as a test-reserve driver for Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe GmbH in the World Endurance Championship in 2020.
The Dutchman made the permanent move to Formula E in 2021, before securing a role as the test-reserve driver for Mercedes in 2022.
2020: Mick Schumacher
2020 F2 champion and son of seven-time F1 World Driver’s World Champion Michael, Mick Schumacher claimed the F2 title narrowly by 14 points. Compared to Piastri’s class of 2021, the German proved to have closer competition throughout the season.
Schumacher gained promotion to F1 through the American-owned Uralkali Haas F1 Team, with fifth-placed Russian driver Nikita Mazepin.
Haas’s 2021 F1 package was significantly inferior to the rest of the field, however, Schumacher indisputably dominated Mazepin throughout the season.
The speculative future of Piastri is encouraging, considering what his F2 champion colleagues have achieved in their careers post-F2. A move to test-reserve driver of Alpine is undeniably optimistic, but what more can we expect from the Aussie in the future?
Comparable to de Vries’ path, Piastri hasn’t earned an F1 seat straight after winning the F2 title, but with the flexibility of test-reserve drivers, has many options for next year.
It is likely we will see him driving the Alpine F1 car in winter testing prior to the 2022 season, yet throughout the season his services will be rarely needed.
We may see Piastri in action within other classes, as de Vries did in previous years if he wishes, but it is suspected that his focus will be getting an F1 seat in 2023.
In an interview last year, Piastri stated, “I’d be pretty annoyed if I wasn’t on the grid in 2023”.
“I will prove to Alpine why I should be on the starting grid and hopefully it will lead to a seat in 2023.”
The influence of two-time champion Fernando Alonso and Frenchman Esteban Ocon at Alpine will be immense to the growth of Piastri. Working closely with the French team in 2022 could only strengthen his chances of a 2023 seat.
10 drivers on the grid have contracts set to expire at the completion of the 2022 season, including Alpine’s Alonso.
Winter testing began for the 2022 F1 season began in Spain from February 23rd to 25th, and continues in Bahrain from March 10th to 12th – a week prior to the season opener.
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