Australia has a new world champion after Oscar Piastri won the Formula 2 world title and sent a strong message after his F1 snub.
Australian young gun Oscar Piastri won the Formula 2 title in style, sending a bold message to the world of motorsport after he was overlooked for a spot on next year’s F1 grid.
The Melburnian needed to finish fifth or better in the first sprint race at the season finale in Abu Dhabi to claim the title in F1’s feeder competition.
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Piastri had work to do after he was placed 10th for the sprint but he made a sensational start, jumping up to sixth by the end of the first lap.
For most of the race Piastri was hot on the tail of his Prema teammate Robert Schwartzman — the only driver who could deprive him of a likely championship win.
The 20-year-old was sitting in fourth position and had done enough to win the title but he wasn’t satisfied, making a bold move to overtake his teammate.
With four laps to go, Piastri and Schwartzman went wheel-to-wheel but the Aussie pulled off an impressive pass, ensuring he finished third and secured a 10th podium of the season.
The race was won by Jehan Daruvala but Piastri has been so dominant in F2 this year he locked up the title with two races to spare.
His F2 win is Piastri’s third championship in as many years after he was the Formula Renault Eurocup champion in 2019 and Formula 3 champion last year.
Piastri’s latest trophy caps off a stunning 2021 season in which he was impressed fans with his race craft and composure under pressure.
“Oscar Piastri has completely transcended the idea you need to build experience before you deliver at this level,” commentator Alex Brundle said.
Viewers said Piastri’s late pass on his teammate was symbolic of his ability to determination to push the limit on the track.
“I love how he just cracks on regardless of the title picture,” F1 journalist Chris Medland tweeted.
“Piastri’s shown excellent race craft this year.”
F1 broadcaster Will Buxton added: “Oscar Piastri that was sensational. Absolutely sent it.”
After adding another trophy to his cabinet, Piastri will take the role of Alpine’s F1 reserve driver next year, with an eye to replacing Esteban Ocon or Fernando Alonso in 2023.
He was controversially overlooked for the last vacant seat on the grid for 2022, with China’s Guanyu Zhou named as Antonio Giovinazzi’s replacement at Alfa Romeo.
Pundits believe it is a shame Piastri won’t be racing in F1 next year but argue it’s only a matter of time before he is given a seat in the big leagues.
Medland described Piastri as “absolutely the real deal. Such a shame he won’t be in F1 next year.”
“3 championships in a row,” Buxton said.
“One of the best junior careers I’ve ever seen. No room at the top table next year, but it can’t be long. He’s far too good.”
By winning the F2 title, Piastri joins a who’s-who of drivers who have won the F2 title and have gone on to drive in F1, including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and George Russell.
Piastri said he was “super happy” to end his junior racing career in emphatic style.
“What a race to clinch it on,” he said.
“I wanted to get on the podium to do some good celebrating and we pulled it off.
“(I’m) so happy. It was a lot less stressful than last year so I’m very happy about that.
“Very, very, very happy.”
As an F1 reserve driver, Piastri will have less driving commitments next year and he jokingly said he hopes to be champion of a different kind in 2022.
“It’s been an awesome three years to round out my junior career,” he said.
“Hopefully I can be champion of sitting on the couch next year because that’s about all I’ll be driving.
“(I’m) really happy. Really glad I could get the third one in a row. I don’t think anyone else has got that on their CV. Very happy and very proud of what I’ve done.”