Prodigy's 'extraordinary' link to F1 stars

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Formula One large Mark Webber doesn't manus retired compliments lightly, truthful erstwhile helium describes Melbourne's Oscar Piastri arsenic "one of the champion 3 juniors successful the world" it's an denotation Australia has different aboriginal prima connected its hands.

Piastri is presently 2nd successful the F2 title race, 1 level beneath F1, and his performances to day person caught the attraction of influential members of the F1 community.

He's already a subordinate of the Alpine inferior academy, the squad which presently employs two-time satellite champion Fernando Alonso.

The 20-year-old is lone 5 points disconnected the title pb successful F2, having won the F3 rubric successful 2020. Indeed, specified is the velocity with which he's climbed the motorsport ladder that Webber says Alpine has been caught retired by his accelerated rise, with the team's 2 F1 seats already sorted for 2022.

Oscar Piastri driving successful the Bahrain F2 contention for Prema Racing. (Getty)

Four podium finishes successful 9 races, including a triumph connected his debut play successful Bahrain, person been the highlights of a accordant play for Piastri successful 2021.

"It's been an bonzer show for a archetypal twelvemonth rookie," Webber told Wide World of Sports.

"We knew helium was good, but he's conscionable perfectly immune to pressure, he's been capable to beryllium determination erstwhile it counts each weekend."

Piastri drives for the Prema F2 team, the aforesaid outfit that took existent F1 drivers Charles Leclerc (2017) and Mick Schumacher (2020) to the title.

"He's specified a cool, calm and collected youngster," Webber said.

"The squad he's driving for, they've had the champion successful the concern thrust for them. (Team boss) Rene Rosin is simply a hard taskmaster, he's 1 of the toughest bosses you could person successful the inferior categories, but he's a monolithic instrumentality of Oscar.

Australia's Oscar Piastri connected the podium aft winning contention 2 of the Bahrain F2 weekend. (Getty)

"He has to support doing what he's doing now, and hopefully erstwhile we tin get the Australian Grand Prix up and moving again he'll beryllium connected the F1 grid."

Webber, who has been guiding Piastri's vocation for the past 18 months, isn't definite if his protégé volition beryllium successful F1 adjacent year, but if he's not, it won't beryllium done deficiency of talent.

With lone 20 contention seats available, and galore drivers already nether declaration for 2022, spots connected the grid are scarce.

"We don't cognize however galore guys are going to determination up from F2 adjacent year, but Oscar is 1 of 2 oregon 3 that person the endowment to bash it, alternatively than relying connected money," helium said.

"He's got his F1 ace licence already, from winning the F3 championship.

"He's 1 of the champion 3 juniors successful the satellite successful my opinion."

Oscar Piastri during F2 investigating successful Barcelona. (Getty)

Piastri's show successful winning the F3 title successful his archetypal year, and present contending successful F2 arsenic a rookie, hasn't gone unnoticed by those who marque the decisions successful F1.

The Melbournian has doubly tested a Formula One car for Alpine, once successful Bahrain and more precocious astatine Silverstone, on with improvement enactment successful the simulator for the team.

But Alpine person Alonso nether declaration for adjacent season, and precocious re-signed Esteban Ocon connected a caller three-year deal.

"First twelvemonth of F2 is hard," Webber noted.

"Don't underestimate however hard it is. It's truly challenging. (Lando) Norris, (Charles) Leclerc, (George) Russell, (Lewis) Hamilton, (Nico) Rosberg, the guys who person existent talent, they each showed thing successful their archetypal year, and that's what Oscar is doing close now.

"That's what radical are talking astir successful the F1 paddock with Oscar. He's really gone excessively accelerated for Alpine, he's gone up the ladder excessively quickly. Alpine person already got Ocon and Fernando for 2022.

Mark Webber with Oscar Piastri. (OscarPiastri.com)

"So it's a spot of a headache for Alpine, however accelerated Oscar is progressing. That's evidently a bully occupation to have. They don't privation to beryllium losing him, they're moving hard to support him and that's a tremendous concern for Oscar to beryllium in, due to the fact that he's doing each his talking connected the track."

Unlike Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, Alpine don't person a inferior squad successful F1 wherever they tin nonstop their young drivers to summation experience.

That's a imaginable occupation for Piastri. The F2 leader, China's Guanyu Zhou, is besides a subordinate of the Alpine academy, and F1 is known to beryllium keen to pull a Chinese operator to unfastened up the lucrative marketplace successful that country.

Zhou is rumoured to person up to $50m down him to unafraid a thrust successful F1, a fig that Piastri tin lone imagination of, with Australian companies reluctant to enactment young motorsport talent. Zhou precocious took portion successful a Friday signifier league for Alpine astatine the Austrian Grand Prix, an important measurement for the Chinese driver, who, dissimilar Piastri, hasn't yet qualified for an F1 ace licence.

"Alpine cognize that Oscar should truly beryllium the lone one," Webber said.

Oscar Piastri during his archetypal outing successful an F1 car. (Supplied)

"Zhou is doing good now, but helium took 3 years to get done F3, and present it's his 3rd twelvemonth of F2. He's bully astatine that level, but I highly uncertainty that he's F1 worldly implicit the people of a season.

"We've seen a fig of times that Oscar tin accommodate and present truly quickly, and that's what F1 teams like.

"It would beryllium bully if Alpine had different team, similar Mercedes and Red Bull do, but they don't. But Alpine's inferior programme has been large for Oscar, and they cognize that he's their main man. We've conscionable got to enactment retired a solution with Alpine for the future, I'm assured it volition beryllium OK."

The victor of the F2 title is barred from competing successful the class again adjacent year, but with spots successful F1 truthful hard to travel by, it's not wide what that means for whoever wins the title.

Oscar Piastri during F2 pre-season investigating successful Bahrain. (Getty)

A cagey Webber wouldn't regularisation retired an F1 thrust for Piastri adjacent season, but admitted the options are drying up quickly.

"Never accidental never, due to the fact that unusual things tin hap successful Formula One, there's nary uncertainty astir that," helium said.

"The F2 title doesn't decorativeness until December, cipher knows who's going to triumph the championship, but evidently by past each the F1 seats volition beryllium taken.

"Next year, let's see. We're not excluding thing astatine this stage. Given what Oscar is doing, there's people immoderate involvement successful him.

Oscar Piastri during F2 pre-season investigating successful Bahrain. (Getty)

"It's beauteous slim pickings close present for adjacent year, but he's successful that last group, that's exciting."

Regardless of wherever Piastri ends up successful 2022, Webber says the aboriginal is bright, some connected and disconnected the track.

"Alpine cognize they person an insane plus that they own, and they request to enactment retired what they're going to bash with idiosyncratic of Oscar's level.

"He's implicit class. He speaks well, and I'm told the girls reckon he's getting amended looking each month, truthful that won't wounded him either!"

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