Oscar Piastri is currently in uncharted territory.
The 20-year-old young gun has gone from strength to strength in recent years and finds himself just two rounds away from a potential FIA Formula 2 Championship title.
If the Prema Racing driver was to win the second tier of Formula racing, he would become the first Australian ever to do so.
Making this feat even more impressive is that Piastri will have won three junior championship titles in a row - adding to his Formula Renault Eurocup title in 2019 and last year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship.
Both those series were won on the final weekend in thrilling fashion, however this time around, the Victorian finds himself with a somewhat comfortable 36-point lead over Alpine Academy teammate Guanyu Zhou.
If he was to win this year, Piastri would have won both the FIA Formula 3 and Formula 2 Championships in his rookie years – an extraordinary and rare achievement considering the amount of talent on the grid and something accomplished by only two other people – Formula 1 stars Charles Leclerc and George Russell.
It’s these impressive performances that has seen Piastri develop into one of the most talked about drivers in the junior ranks.
From Leclerc to Formula 1 pundit Karun Chandhok, the praise for Piastri is coming in thick and fast, with some even suggesting he should be the recipient of the last available seat on the Formula 1 2022 grid, a drive with Alfa Romeo.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to be honest,” Piastri said.
“Obviously I know quite a bit about the situation for next year, so I am not getting ahead of myself, but to be the current hot topic of the F1 paddock is a very proud moment.
“The Alfa Romeo talk did come out of nowhere and my Twitter was blowing up with all these stories, although I probably know a lot more about the likelihood of it happening compared to others, but it’s still very cool.”
The talk about Piastri deserving an F1 seat isn’t unsubstantiated.
In addition to his three race wins this year, his most recent being the two feature races at Monza and Sochi, Piastri has also claimed the fastest lap four times and secured pole three times – something that has been a long time in the making.
Although many people knew of his talent from previous years, Piastri has gone to another level in 2021 and is enjoying what he describes as his best season in single-seater racing.
“Last year was pretty good, just not quite there in terms of pace whereas this year it feels like I am setting the pace and putting my strengths of my past seasons together. It’s been a good year,” Piastri explained.
“Three poles and two feature race wins in a row – It’s certainly feels like the best season I have ever had.
“I have definitely exceeded the expectations I had at the start of the year. I knew off the back of last year, I could try and challenge for the championship, but F2 is a different beast compared to F3.
“I may have been quietly confident I could challenge for the title. But I didn’t think I would be leading the championship halfway through and then leading it by more at this stage. It’s been a bit of a dream.
“Hopefully it’s not so much of a battle this year, but if it does come down to it, I have been in that position before and it won’t be anything new – it’s something I am used to.”
Piastri will be back in action in December in Saudi Arabia before the eighth and final round takes place in Abu Dhabi on the following weekend.
The penultimate round of the 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship season takes place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit as part of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on 4-5 December.
The full Motorsport Australia interview with Oscar Piastri will be available to read in the November edition of Speed Read.