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Nicholas Latifi

Could Piastri replace Latifi after Canadian Grand Prix?

Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri could make his Formula 1 debut with Williams at the British Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com has learned from sources close to the situation.

Piastri
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To news overview © Michael Potts / RacingNews365

Oscar Piastri could be set to make his debut at the British Grand Prix, replacing Nicholas Latifi at Williams, RacingNews365.com has learned from sources close to the situation.

The Alpine-contracted Australian was due to participate in Friday’s first practice session as part of the team’s two mandatory 'rookie' runs, but compatriot Jack Doohan, son of MotoGP champion Mick, is said to have been sounded out about filling the seat if Piastri is unavailable.

Doohan (19), currently sixth in the Formula 2 championship, switched from the Red Bull Young Driver squad to Alpine's academy for this season, while Piastri's contract is believed to include a clause committing Alpine to provide an F1 race seat for 2023, if not earlier.

Both Doohan and Piastri had a chance to drive Alpine's A521 during a one-day test in Qatar last month.

Piastri is known to have had a recent seat fitting at Williams, although this was brushed aside by team sources as being in readiness for a third driver role. The team are, however, increasingly frustrated by Latifi's crash rate, which has proved costly both in terms of points and budget cap terms.

Thus, the team are considering replacing the Canadian, who made his F1 debut with Williams in 2020, after his home Grand Prix – his first F1 race at the Montreal circuit after the previous two editions were cancelled due to the pandemic – with Piastri, in a deal that would see Latifi bought out of his contract and the Mark Webber-managed Piastri installed at Williams through to end-2023.

Alpine would thus be able to retain Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon for next season while retaining an option on Piastri and ease Doohan into Formula 1.

Piastri dominant en route to Formula 1

Piastri enjoyed a meteoric rise to the cusp of F1: He consecutively won the Formula Renault Eurocup and the FIA Formula 3 and FIA Formula 2 championships, but failed to secure a seat in the premier category due to a lack of vacant seats. Fellow Alpine Academy driver Zhou Guanyu, whom he beat to the F2 title, graduated to F1 with Alfa Romeo.

"I've certainly done everything in my power to present my case for an F1 seat," he said after clinching the F2 title. "I said earlier this year I thought results could barge my way into a seat somewhere – clearly that’s not the case. I hope to be on the [F1] grid in 2023."

Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer recently indicated that Piastri’s situation should be resolved during July. The British Grand Prix takes place during the first weekend of the month, and a fortnight after Canada's round.

During the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, Williams sounded out Formula E champion Nyck de Vries but according to RacingNews365 pundit Tom Coronel, who is close to the Dutchman's family, the Mercedes-contracted reserve driver was subsequently told that they had decided to go with Piastri for 2023.

Although Latifi blamed an engine issue for his Monaco crash behind the Safety Car, telling RacingNews365, "Something went wrong there, I know I didn't do anything wrong there," the incident is said to have hardened his team's resolve to replace him even before his contract expires this year.

An Alpine spokesperson refused to comment on the situation.

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