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
The 70s US superteam that tried and failed to crack F1 Plus

The 70s US superteam that tried and failed to crack F1

Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing was briefly one of the biggest names on the US motorsports scene, but its ambition outstripped its resources. STUART CODLING relates the story of a Formula 1 campaign cut off in its prime

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021