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Alpine expect Oscar Piastri to be in F1 next year

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A brave groundhog crosses the track between the cars of Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. (0:20)

Alpine expect Australian Oscar Piastri to be racing in Formula One next year, principal Otmar Szafnauer said on Saturday without indicating which team it would be with.

Piastri won the Formula Two championship last year, after also taking the Formula Three title at the first attempt, and is reserve at Renault-owned Alpine to double world champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

The 21-year-old has been linked in particular to Mercedes-powered Williams, but Alpine offered him to McLaren as a possible stand-in earlier in the year.

Asked at the Canadian Grand Prix whether he thought Piastri would be racing in F1 next year, Szafnauer replied: "Yes."

Pressed on the subject, he added: "We don't talk about the details of our contracts with drivers, and that's sometimes we never do.

"But when I do say yes, that's the plan."

Ocon has a contract at Alpine until 2024 but Alonso, 40, is out of contract at the end of the year although he is performing strongly and keen on staying.

"We are contracted with Oscar, we have some options on him so there is no real need to hurry that," said Szafnauer.

Alpine have a detailed preparation programme planned for Piastri this season and he recently tested a 2021 car at Silverstone.

Williams team principal Jost Capito said Piastri was certainly on their list.

British-born Thai racer Alex Albon was Red Bull's reserve last season and is now racing for Williams alongside Canadian Nicholas Latifi, whose seat is the one at risk.

Red Bull have confirmed Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez as their drivers for 2023.

AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost said on Saturday that Pierre Gasly was also staying with the Red Bull sister team next season, whose second driver Yuki Tsunoda is a Honda protege and is also expected to stay.

Capito said there were no plans for any change of drivers at Williams this season.

"Both have a contract for this season and that is what our plan is, to fulfil that," he said.