Oscar Piastri has raced to Formula Two glory to stamp his world-beating driving credentials for the third year running – but the Australian prodigy can’t hide his frustration that the only title he can gain next year is as “couch champion”.
The 20-year-old from Melbourne, who’s long been tipped for Formula One greatness, sealed his season-long F2 dominance on Saturday by taking the title with two races to spare in Abu Dhabi.
In the morning sprint race at the Yas Marina circuit, he blitzed through the field from his starting position of 10th to end up third on the podium and seal another triumph after his F3 crown last year and his 2019 Formula Renault victory.
Even though Piastri had a second sprint race to forget in the evening, eventually having to retire after a collision, he goes into Sunday’s final feature race an insurmountable 53.5 points clear of his PREMA Racing teammate Robert Schwartman.
It will be the last race of the 20-year-old’s junior career – but despite having dominated his classes over the last three seasons, 2022 will see him acting only as reserve driver for the Alpine F1 team, supporting Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
“Hopefully, I can be champion of sitting on the couch next year,” said Piastri, offering a smile which couldn’t disguise the prospect of a year of frustration.
But he made it clear he won’t be happy being kept out of the Formula One action for long as he seeks to quickly follow in the wheel tracks of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and future Mercedes racer George Russell, who were also back-to-back F3/F2 winners.
“I have certainly done everything in my power to present my case for an F1 race seat,” said Piastri, who’ll start on pole while going for a sixth win of the year in Sunday’s finale.
“I said at the beginning of this year, I thought results could barge my way into an F1 race seat somewhere. Clearly that has not worked out.
“Of course, it is a bit disappointing I won’t be making the jump directly and I really, really hope that I’m on the grid in 2023.
“I’d be pretty annoyed – for a PG version of my comments – if I wasn’t on the grid in 2023, because I have run out of things to prove myself with.”
Piastri’s ‘couch’ comment, of course, was a throwaway, as he explained: “I will be attending all of the flyaway races and experiencing the hectic calendar of the F1 world and a lot of work in the sim – so I won’t be spending that much time on the couch!
“It will be a busy year and it is a fantastic opportunity, of course it’s not quite the ultimate goal I wanted for next year.
“I will still be doing a decent amount of driving – it won’t be racing.
He reckoned he was honoured to have emulated Russell and Leclerc, particularly as he’d still been in his rookie year.
“I hope it shows I’m a pretty handy steerer,” he smiled.
“I want to keep my focus on F1 and make sure my face is in the paddock so people don’t forget about me.
“F1 is my ultimate goal and realistically it is a goal not a dream anymore.”