F1 preview: A lap of the Italian Grand Prix
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has admitted that he regrets failing to add Oscar Piastri to his team’s junior setup before the Australian driver was snapped up by Alpine a few years ago. Piastri is set to race alongside Lando Norris at McLaren next year after signing a multi-season deal to replace Daniel Ricciardo, who will see his stay with the British team cut short at the end of the current campaign.
Piastri has long been regarded as one of the best young talents outside F1 and is widely expected to make a splash in his first year with McLaren, who managed to snatch him away from Alpine on a pre-contract basis over the summer. Horner has since revealed that he regrets missing out on a previous opportunity to bring Piastri to Red Bull when quizzed on his move to McLaren during the latest episode of the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He drove for the Arden team in Formula Four and Formula Renault and was obviously a significant talent,” explained Horner.
“There was an opportunity for Red Bull to look at him at the time and we didn’t take up that option, which is something that I regret. But what he went on to achieve is phenomenal in Formula Three and Formula Two.
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“If he’d have been a driver here, there is no way that he wouldn’t have been under lock and key for a period in time. As I say, I wasn’t party, it’s difficult to judge what was promised or reneged on or so on. But certainly, it [Piastri’s move to McLaren] was unexpected, probably from several areas.”
Alpine initially opted to challenge McLaren’s decision to land Piastri, with the French outfit having previously announced that he had signed a deal to drive alongside Esteban Ocon for them in 2023. However, the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board eventually sided with McLaren to leave Alpine without a confirmed driver pairing ahead of next season.
Horner went on to reflect on Red Bull’s own junior programme by insisting that it remains in good shape, although none of their budding drivers are expected to be promoted to F1 until at least 2024 as things stand.
“We’re continuing to invest in youth, we’ve got some great youngsters in the programme, all the way from karting and stepping into Formula Four now, upwards,” added Horner.
“I think it’s something Red Bull has done so well, giving these kids a chance, investing in young talent, and giving opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Isack Hadjar in Formula Three this year has had a great debut season.
“I think [Ayumu] Iwasa in Formula Two has been a standout driver for me. They’re just two of the guys on the programme. Liam Lawson has had a tough year, but he’s again another talent.
“Dennis Hauger has been a bit underwhelming in Formula Two after such a dominant year in Formula Three. But again, how much of that is him and how much of it is equipment?”
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