Alpine explain why Piastri wasn't handed Melbourne 'home' FP1

© XPB 

Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri is set to take part in several Friday practice sessions with the Enstone squad this season, but CEO Laurent Rossi explained why the Aussie was ruled out of running in FP1 on home ground in Melbourne.

After successive titles in the FIA F3 and F2 championships, Piastri is spending a year on the sidelines with Alpine which aims to promote its talented junior to F1 in 2022, although with which team is uncertain.

The 21-year-old charger is being groomed for the big time, embedding at every race with the French outfit while undertaking during the year an extensive simulator and test programme.

Alpine would have loved to hand its protégé track time in front of his home crowd at Albert Park last weekend, but there was simply too much risk at hand in the third race of the season for such a plan to happen.

"We loved the idea, I loved the idea," said Alpine boss Rossi. "It would have been a great story.

"But to be honest those cars are brand new. They are still rather fragile for all teams. The drivers are still learning and we are still learning, so any FP, even FP1, is important.

"The track is new as well. So it was a perfect storm. And we don't have a lot of spare parts.

"It's one thing to be the regular driver and break the car, it's another thing to put that pressure on a rookie, as talented as he is.

"If suddenly you go and destroy the chassis, for any reason, then you are like Haas, now you don't have a spare chassis.

"There were too many parameters going against it. So, sadly, we decided it will be later in the season."

F1 sporting regulations now mandate that teams use a rookie driver on at least two occasions during first free practice this season. Piastri is therefore guaranteed at least a couple of FP1 outings with Alpine this season.

"We have a couple of grands prix that are earmarked as possible," comfirmed Rossi.

"Think about grands prix where the drivers are very comfortable because they've raced on that track like a billion times and FP1 is not that important.

"That could be an option, and/or grands prix where stakes are perhaps less high."

In the interim, Piastri will have a packed agenda of sim and private track testing with Alpine's 2021 car.

"It's going to be an extensive testing programme, a lot of test days, a lot of kilometres, a lot of simulator," explained Rossi, quoted by

"He's going to learn a lot and bring a lot to us as well.

"Plus, we are including him a bit more in depth than other drivers in the briefing room of the data analysis.

"He's also looking at other cars and their driving lines and providing potential feedback on the way the cars behave, or even the drivers, how they take some turns and stuff like that.

"Oscar has better input, better feedback, because you can rely on it. It's not like someone is saying something, and you're like, 'yeah right, what do you know?'.

"So he's getting a lot of information, a lot of experience and expertise. It's much more intense than a rookie or reserve driver programme will [usually] get.

"Even compared to last year, my reserve driver was not necessarily involved in all those briefings or debriefs," added the Alpine boss.

"Clearly not doing all of the tests. Clearly not going on the simulator so much. And that's normal.

"Oscar is doing it all."

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