Oscar Piastri has confirmed he will not be driving in Formula 2 next year, and may not race at all so he can focus on his Alpine reserve duties.
The Alpine junior driver had been among those linked with a move to Alfa Romeo next season, but they ultimately plumped for Guanyu Zhou for that seat – with the Chinese driver leaving Alpine's junior programme in order to do so.
Piastri currently holds a 36-point lead over Zhou at the top of the standings in Formula 2 as the season heads into its final rounds in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Formula 2 champions are no longer allowed to re-enter the series, but even if he relinquishes his advantage in the final races Piastri said he is not expecting to be on any grid next year – regardless of any opportunities put in front of him.
"At the moment, I don't think so," Piastri told reporters in Qatar when asked if he will race in 2022, quoted by Autosport.
"I want to be focused on getting to F1. I think being in the paddock with Alpine as often as I can, even if I'm not racing, I think that's equally if not more beneficial towards my goal of getting to F1.
"As much as I will miss racing, because I don't think I will race anything next year, I think there's a bigger picture to look at and focus on being in F1 firstly."
Should he remain on the sidelines all year long, the young Australian said he hopes to have the opportunity to use "a pretty extensive testing programme" to make sure he is "driving reasonably frequently", as well as taking part in young driver tests and FP1 sessions where possible.
"Okay, it's not going to be racing. But again, if it's going to be any kind of distraction and mean I miss out on any opportunities with Alpine in the F1 paddock, it doesn't particularly interest me to be honest," Piastri explained.
"As weird as this is for me to say, I'd rather not go racing and be fully focused on my reserve driver role with the aim of trying to get to F1 in the near future, rather than be dabbling everywhere else and taking a bit of my focus off getting to F1."
Piastri recently defended Zhou from criticism he received because of accusations that Alfa Romeo picked him because of the money he will bring to the team, and the young Australian admitted it may well benefit him in the long term now the Chinese driver has left the Alpine Academy.
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