Alpine Formula 1 junior Oscar Piastri has sealed the 2021 Formula 2 title with two races to spare in Abu Dhabi.
The 20-year-old Australian is a rookie driving for the Prema team that has propelled three drivers – Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher – to titles in F1’s main feeder since joining it in 2016, when it was still GP2.
This year, the Italian tea
m’s title hopes were expected to be spearheaded by Ferrari F1 junior Robert Shwartzman, a standout in his first year in 2020 – yet while Shwartzman entered Saturday’s first race as the only driver still with a chance of stopping Piastri’s coronation, he was at that point no more than a massive long shot.
And Piastri ended his team-mate’s slim title hopes in style, charging from 10th on the grid to pass Shwartzman for third place with a fairly audacious lunge in the closing stages of the weekend’s opening race, which allowed Piastri to clinch the title with a podium.
PIASTRI 🆚 SHWARTZMAN
PREMA 🆚 PREMA
— Formula 2 (@Formula2) December 11, 2021
Piastri’s F2 title makes it a hat-trick of consecutive junior single-seater crowns as he’d won the Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula 3 championship in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
This season, he’d assumed the points lead for good around the midway part of the campaign at Silverstone, helped in pulling away by his streak of five consecutive qualifying poles.
Yet despite his spectacular rookie season form he was only ever an outside contender for a 2022 F1 seat, and with next year’s grand prix grid now finalised it will only feature one F2 graduate from this year in Alfa Romeo’s new signing Guanyu Zhou – who was an early-season frontrunner but couldn’t arrest Piastri’s mid-year momentum.
Piastri, who cannot remain in F2 next year as the series’ rules prevent champions from doing so, will instead serve as Alpine’s reserve driver.
He will drive for Alpine in F1’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) December 11, 2021