Former Formula 2 driver Callum Ilott says it would be an "injustice" if Oscar Piastri didn't make it into Formula 1 next year and that it would reflect badly on the sport's attitude towards its own junior championships.
The 20-year-old Australian won the 2019 Formula Renault 2.0 Euro title and went onto claim the Formula 3 crown the following season.
Last year he was successful in winning the Formula 2 championship with Prema at this first attempt, picking up six wins, 11 podiums, five pole positions and six fastest laps over the course of 23 races.
But despite that impressive record, he was overlooked when it came to getting a race seat in F1 for the upcoming season. The Alpine Academy driver will spend the year working as a reserve driver for the team instead.
Ilott explained that this was happening to more and more upcoming rising stars who did everything right but still found the way into Grand Prix racing blocked when they arrived at the door.
“From stories in the past I believe similar things have happened in the sense of young guys didn’t make it," he told Motorsportweek.com.
"You always believe that’s not going to happen to you, and at the end of the day life is like that.
The 23-year-old from Cambridge himself narrowly missed out on clinching major titles on his way up the motorsport ladder, and acknowledges that it's not been the same for Piastri.
"With Oscar, it’s a bit different in the sense that there wasn’t availability for the support package that he had for this year. So I wasn’t surprised in that sense.
"At the end of the day it’s expensive," he explained. “It’s expensive for the teams. It’s expensive for the sponsors. You’ve got to fit into that package, and yeah, unfortunately it doesn’t always work.
“What would be a surprise is if at the end of this year he didn’t have a seat for the following year," he said. "You can have a year off as we’ve seen with many drivers.
"But if he doesn’t get one at the end of the year I’d be very surprised," he added. "It would be an injustice to junior formula and the single seater ladder that we have."
There has been criticism that too many seats in F1 are taken by 'pay drivers', who can bring a large amount of sponsorship with them to help boost a team's finances.
However Ilott acknowledged that drivers still have to prove themselves where it counts to make it to the top - and stay there.
"There’s 20 seats, and most of them are filled by the guys who have proven [their abilities] and earned that seat for a long time.
“It’s an individual sport in the way it works," he added. "Unfortunately for the young guys ... For me, it was a very lonely discovery process of that’s how the world works."
Ilott himself also had high hopes of making it into F1 after finishing the 2020 Formula 2 season as runner-up to Mick Schumacher, who was promptly promoted to Haas F1 for his rookie season along with Nikita Mazepin who had finished fifth.
Despite having test opportunities with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas, Ilott himself didn't do on to land a coveted seat with any of the F1 teams and has missed out again in 2022.
After a year on the racing sidelines as a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo, this year he will switch to the US IndyCar Series with Juncos Hollinger Racing.
“IndyCar is a new start for me and a great opportunity," he commented. "That’s the way I want to look at it, and I think to be fair for me, I will have hopefully a very good career out here.”