Alpine "won't stand in the way" of Zhou F1 drive at Alfa Romeo

Alpine will have no qualms if academy driver Guanyu Zhou makes his Formula 1 debut with the Alfa Romeo team next year.

Alpine "won't stand in the way" of Zhou F1 drive at Alfa Romeo

The 22-year-old Chinese driver is understood to be favourite to become Valtteri Bottas’s team-mate at Alfa in 2022, with a decision set to be made in the next few weeks.

Although Zhou’s recent efforts have been guided by the Alpine Academy, having joined the programme under its then Renault guise back in 2019, the French car manufacturer won’t stand in his way if he finds a full-time race seat with a rival squad.

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said: “There are rumours flying around, and I am not going to comment on rumours here, or on driver contracts.

“We are evaluating options for our academy drivers, but the success of an academy is also measured through its output.

“We are running this academy because we want to generate Formula 1 drivers, Formula 1 drivers for Alpine.

“The academy as such is only successful if it does generate Formula 1 drivers, so we can’t stand in the way of our drivers, who are mature for F1 and ready to take that challenge.

“That would be obviously negative for their careers and for them as individuals, and also it would reflect badly on our academy.

“So these are the parameters, if you want, we need to take into account when assessing our plans for next year.”

 

Photo by: Alpine

Rather than being concerned about potentially losing drivers, Budkowski says any deal elsewhere for Zhou would be positive for showing how effective its academy is.

“It’s a great problem to have, isn’t it?” he said, when asked about the complications of Zhou being released to race elsewhere.

“What we are basically saying is that our academy has been successful at generating great talent and, in a way, a few of them are coming to maturity and are ready for F1 at the same time.

“So, credit to the academy that we have been running for a few years and to Mia Sharizman, our academy director, who has been preparing all these youngsters and taking them through all these various categories successfully.”

With F1’s rules set to change for 2022 to make it mandatory for teams to run rookie drivers in a number of Friday practice sessions, Zhou would have been an obvious candidate to do this for Alpine.

If he does end up at Alfa Romeo, however, then that could open the door for fellow academy driver Oscar Piastri to take an F1 Friday role, after his impressive rookie campaign in F2.

Speaking about Alpine’s 2022 young driver plans, Budkowski said the team could not ignore what Piastri had done this year.

“Definitely Oscar’s been extremely impressive,” he said. “He is potentially on course to win his third championship in three years.

“He has won F3, he won the Renault Eurocup in the previous years, so what a streak already. Even if he doesn’t win it [F2], it’s a pretty strong three years for a young driver.

“I think there’s very few that have managed that in the past, so does that impress us, at Alpine? Of course it does. Will he win the championship? We’ll know that soon.

“But certainly it does have an influence on the plans we are making for next year for the reserve driver’s seat and for the output of the academy in general.”

shares
comments

Related video

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers
Previous article

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Next article

Piastri prepared to sit out F1 2022, targeting 2023 race seat

Piastri prepared to sit out F1 2022, targeting 2023 race seat
Load comments
Why Red Bull can win a Spanish GP that looked perfect for Ferrari Plus

Why Red Bull can win a Spanish GP that looked perfect for Ferrari

Formula 1's return to Spain on Friday ended with Ferrari leading the way from Mercedes, while Red Bull could only manage third fastest overall courtesy of Max Verstappen. But its chances of victory are far from remote with a deeper dig into the times despite Ferrari's strong start

Explaining the key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries Plus

Explaining the key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries

The VW Group’s German superpowers of sportscar racing have all but confirmed they are coming to F1 when the next set of engine rules come into force in 2026. Here's why both manufacturers are all set to take the plunge, and crucially how it might work

Formula 1
May 19, 2022
How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup Plus

How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup

Holding a race in Las Vegas – party central, a city of dreams and decadence and, yes, more than a smattering of tackiness – has been on Liberty Media’s most-wanted list since it acquired Formula 1’s commercial rights. But, as LUKE SMITH explains, F1 has been here before and the relationship didn’t work out

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why de Vries' F1 practice debut could add a new path to his current crossroads Plus

Why de Vries' F1 practice debut could add a new path to his current crossroads

A Formula 2 and Formula E champion, Nyck de Vries is currently considering where his future in motorsport lies. Continuing in WEC and Formula E is possible and he's also courted glances Stateside after impressing in an IndyCar test. But ahead of his Formula 1 FP1 debut with Williams, he could have another option if he impresses...

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why Leclerc's historics crash shouldn't put off F1 drivers tasting history Plus

Why Leclerc's historics crash shouldn't put off F1 drivers tasting history

OPINION: For a demo run ahead of Monaco's Historique Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc was blessed with the opportunity to drive Niki Lauda's former Ferrari 312B3 - but a brake failure at Rascasse suggested Leclerc's Monaco hoodoo transcended contemporary F1. Although an awkward incident, Leclerc deserves credit for embracing F1's history

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why the lack of “needle” between Red Bull and Ferrari in F1 2022 is a mirage Plus

Why the lack of “needle” between Red Bull and Ferrari in F1 2022 is a mirage

OPINION: The fight for the 2022 Formula 1 world titles between Red Bull and Ferrari so far features little of the public animosity that developed between the former and Mercedes last year. But that isn’t to say things are full on friendly or won’t get much worse very quickly…

Formula 1
May 17, 2022
The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight Plus

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight

The Toleman TG184 was the car that could, according to legend, have given Ayrton Senna his first F1 win but for Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx at Monaco in 1984. That could be stretching the boundaries of the truth a little, but as STUART CODLING explains, the team's greatest legacy was in giving the Brazilian prodigy passed over by bigger outfits an opportunity

Formula 1
May 16, 2022
Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes Plus

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes

Two famous manufacturer teams born out of humble midfield origins, splashing the cash while attempting to rise to the top of F1 in record time. There are clear parallels between Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin and the doomed Jaguar Racing project of 22 years ago, but MARK GALLAGHER believes struggling Aston can avoid a similar fate

Formula 1
May 15, 2022