Formula 1, Red Bull boss Christian Horner regrets not signing Oscar Piastri to junior team, home of AlphaTauri

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed the team passed up the chance to sign promising youngster Oscar Piastri to its Formula 1 young driver programme.

After the 21-year-old Australian drew attention for winning back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles, Horner called the missed opportunity “something I regret”.

Talking about F1 Beyond the Grid Podcast, Horner said it was “difficult” to discuss Piastri’s controversial signing with McLaren, but agreed that had he been in Red Bull’s system – a move that could have happened – his place in the team would have been tightly secured.

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“He drove for Arden (the junior team founded by Horner) in Formula 4 and Formula Renault, and was obviously a big talent,” he said.

“There was an opportunity for Red Bull to look at him at the time, and we didn’t choose that option, which I regret. But what he achieved afterwards is phenomenal, in Formula 3 and in Formula 2.”

“Now if he had been a driver here, there’s no way he hadn’t been locked up for a while. Like I said I hadn’t left, it’s hard to judge what was promised or reneged on or so forth.

“But certainly, it was unexpected, probably from several regions.”

The Melburnian raced for Arden Motorsport in the British F4 Championships and Formula Renault Eurocup as a teenager before joining Renault’s Driver Development Academy (now Alpine Academy) in early 2020.

According to Horner, the aftermath of Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin “created the ripple that ran through many seats”, including that of Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri.

After losing the contract deal to keep Piastri, it has been reported that Alpine intends to bag Pierre Gasly, but AlphaTauri will only release the Frenchman from his one-year contract extension if he has already a replacement, such as IndyCar driver Colton Herta. .

But AlphaTauri’s plan to field Herta on the F1 grid next season hinges on the Andretti Autosport driver securing an FIA exemption for a compulsory superlicense which has so far been denied.

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Test and reserve driver Nyck de Vries also emerged as a contender for the seat after his points success in place of Alex Albon at the Italian Grand Prix.

While Red Bull is not considering any of its existing young drivers for driving, in a similar move to Yuki Tsunoda in 2021, Horner believes his program is still in good shape.

“We continue to invest in young people, we have very good young people in the program, from karting to Formula 4 now, upwards,” he said.

“I think that’s something that Red Bull has done so well, giving those kids a chance, investing in young talent and providing opportunities that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“Isack Hadjar in Formula 3 this year had a great first season. I think [Ayumu] Iwasa in Formula 2 was an outstanding driver for me. These are just two of the guys on the program.

“Liam Lawson has had a tough year, but that’s yet another talent. Dennis Hauger has been a bit of a disappointment in Formula 2 after such a dominant year in Formula 3. But again, how great is him and how good is the equipment?”

But with 19-year-old rising star Jack Doohan also leaving the Red Bull Junior team after five years at the start of 2022, could the UK-based team’s emerging talent be drying up?

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