Otmar Szafnauer believes that Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri will be racing in Formula 1 next season.
The 21-year-old Australian rose to prominence over the last couple of years by winning both the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Piastri was unable to secure a seat on the F1 grid for the 2022 season, but was signed as an Alpine reserve driver following his championship-winning F2 campaign.
Piastri had been mooted as a potential replacement for current Alpine driver Fernando Alonso, should the two-time champion underperform or decide to retire, but neither scenario seems likely to happen.
Instead, Williams are rumoured to be weighing up a 'loan' move for Piastri to replace Nicholas Latifi after the Canadian Grand Prix.
Szafnauer confident that Piastri will race in 2023
With Piastri looking a strong candidate for a seat in the near future, Szafnauer was asked if a race seat in 2023 was a certainty.
"Yes," confirmed Szafnauer, speaking to media including RacingNews365.com.
"We're contracted with Oscar and we have some options on him. So there's no real need to hurry that so we'll take our time and, at the right moment within the silly season, we'll have a look around and make those types of decisions.
"We don't talk about the details of our contracts with the drivers and that's something that we never do. So as much as I'd like to tell you [the details], I don't think I can, but what I do say is 'yes, that's the plan'."
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Piastri meeting expectation in private tests
Piastri's current role at Alpine has involved some testing opportunities, with the most recent test being at Silverstone in one of Alpine's older F1 cars.
He also holds a reserve driver role at McLaren, should one of their drivers be unable to compete.
Piastri was likely to be used during one of the mandatory young driver practice sessions later on in the season, but this will change should an early move to Williams materialise.
When asked about Piastri's progress during the private test sessions at Alpine, Szafnauer was full of praise for his efforts at all the test sessions undertaken.
"Really well. Oscar's a bright young talent coming through as we all know and he's been testing last year's car at more than just Silverstone," confirmed Szafnauer.
"He's done a few others and we'll do some more in the future, and he's done a very well."
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