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Aussie young gun Oscar Piastri ‘deserves’ to racing in Formula One, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Alfa Romeo

The chance of Oscar Piastri driving in Formula One next year is increasing as support grows for the Australian sensation to fill the vacant seat on the grid.

The 20-year-old is currently leading the Formula 2 standings on 178 points, 36 ahead of Guanyu Zhou on 142.

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He is on track for his third championship win in as many years, after he won the Formula Renault Eurocup title with R-ace GP in 2019 and the Formula 3 title in 2020 after he was snapped up by the Renault (now Alpine) academy.

Usually the Formula 2 winner would be all but guaranteed a spot on the following year’s F1 grid, but that is not the case for Piastri.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi is the only driver who is not yet guaranteed a seat on the grid for next year.

Piastri’s name has been mentioned as one of the main contenders to possibly take over the Italian’s seat if he is not re-signed.

However it is Zhou, who is second behind Piastri in Formula 2, who is favoured to take Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo seat.

Aussie sensation Oscar Piastri has been dominating Formula 2 this year. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Zhou reportedly has $48 million (AUD) in backing to help him secure a seat in the big leagues in 2022, which would see him become China’s first F1 driver.

But all hope is not lost for Piastri after Alfa Romeo boss Fred Vasseur labelled rumours of Zhou’s huge financial support “pure speculation and bullsh***”.

Reports also emerged this week Zhou had ruffled feathers at Alfa Romeo in discussions over the length of a possible contract.

The chances of Piastri driving in F1 next year are growing by the week and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc believe the Melburnian deserves to graduate from F2 as soon as possible.

“He is a very, very talented driver,” Leclerc told The Race.

“I obviously look at all the F2 races and he’s incredibly consistent, always there when he needs to be.

“It is impressive and he definitely has the merit to be in F1.

“I really hope for him – he should be in F1. So, I really hope he will be very soon.”

There is no guarantee the winner of Formula 2 will make the leap to F1 the following season but Leclerc said Piastri has done all he to press his case.

“It’s pretty clear once a driver deserves it,” he said.

“Oscar, it’s his first year in F2 and (it looks likely) he wins it straight away – that’s been the case for other drivers, too.”

Piastri could be the next cab off the rank into F1. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Piastri’s F1 credentials have also been endorsed by none other than his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, who praised the young gun’s “race craft” and said it would be “cool” to have two Aussies on the F1 grid.

“I am really excited to see … Oscar do well,” Ricciardo told F1TV this week

“I know what it was like for me when Mark Webber was in F1. When I joined the grid he was still there.

“It was cool, it was really a cool feeling and (I was) obviously proud to represent Australia.

“Oscar’s been killing it this year. (He has) really good race craft, as well. (He) seems to have the whole package right now.”

It’s unclear when Alfa Romeo will choose its driver to partner Valtteri Bottas in 2022 but Piastri seems resigned to missing out on an F1 seat for next season.

“I’m not really in the frame at Alfa Romeo, to be blunt,” he told Wide World of Sports.

“I don’t think it’s going to be me. I don’t really know much about it, which is a fair indication that I’m not really in contention.

Piastri has been praised by F1 superstars including Daniel Ricciardo.Source: Supplied

“Being with Alpine, there’s no engine link with Alfa Romeo at all, so it’s not a conventional route to that seat.

“I’d be very happily surprised if I got the drive, but I’m not confident.”

Piastri believes the most likely scenario is being elevated to Alpine’s F1 reserve driver with a view to replacing veteran Fernando Alonso in 2023.

“Regardless of where I finish this year it doesn’t look like I’ll be on the F1 grid next year, but if I have three championships in three years on my resume, well that looks pretty good,” he said.

“It would be very satisfying and it should prove that I can bring plenty to the table for an F1 team in the future.

“It’s a bit of an unfortunate situation, but I’m not the first one it’s happened to and I won’t be the last.

“The logical step would be to get the reserve driver role at Alpine, and then obviously target an F1 seat in 2023.”

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