Alfa Romeo have announced Valtteri Bottas will be joining the team next season, but there has been no word on who will partner him in 2022.
The confirmation of Bottas’ arrival on a multi-year deal on Monday had long been rumoured as George Russell takes over at Mercedes next year – but who will take the second seat at Alfa is seemingly still up in the air.
Team principal Frederic Vasseur also said Bottas will take on the team leader role at the Hinwil-based outfit next year. So we have taken a look at who could be the Finn’s partner in the Alfa Romeo garage.
While Antonio Giovinazzi’s future with the team is looking unsettled, a contract renewal for the Italian cannot be completely ruled out just yet.
An excellent qualifying performance at Zandvoort will have helped his case, and Ferrari would be keen to keep their junior driver involved with their customer team.
His chances to keep impressing at the team are beginning to elapse though, so nothing short of spectacular performances at Monza and Sochi are required for Giovinazzi to keep his name in the frame for a seat – not least due to the influence of other teams trying to put one of their drivers in his car.
He cannot be discounted from keeping his drive, but the Italian’s time at Alfa Romeo is looking like it is starting to run out.
Christian Horner’s mission to get Alex Albon back on the grid is ongoing, with the Red Bull team principal trying every avenue possible to do so.
Reports from Germany suggest Albon would actually be the team’s preferred choice for the drive next year, but Horner said the British-Thai driver would prioritise a move to Williams first.
However, that appears to be a decreasingly likely scenario, as Toto Wolff wants Albon to be released by the Red Bull programme if he is to make the move to a direct rival in one of Mercedes’ customer teams.
Horner criticised this move, saying Wolff is trying to have a “massive influence” on another team, but even if Albon’s chances at Williams break down, taking a seat at Alfa is a distinct possibility.
Nyck de Vries
Formula E’s first World Champion has been waiting in the wings for a Formula 1 drive for a couple of years, and he reportedly contacted Alfa team principal Vasseur several times over the course of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend.
De Vries’ name has also been mentioned for Russell’s soon-to-be-vacant seat at Williams, which would appear to be his most likely option to get into Formula 1 next season – given his status as a Mercedes reserve and the engine link between the teams.
Given the options available to Alfa Romeo, De Vries appears to have more of an outside chance than others on this list for a place at the team, but a Williams move remains possible.
It feels as though it would not be a Formula 1 driver candidate piece without mentioning Nico Hulkenberg.
The German’s name is also being considered by Williams as they look to fill one of their seats with a more experienced driver in the hope of continuing their journey back up the grid.
Hulkenberg is said to remain among the contenders to take a place at Alfa Romeo next year as he looks to revive his Formula 1 career.
The current Aston Martin reserve driver admitted himself his F1 stint is likely to be over if he cannot get himself back on the grid in 2022, so he will undoubtedly be putting his name out there to gain a seat.
Vasseur’s claim that Bottas will be team leader at Alfa next season, though, could hint the team may be looking to a younger driver instead.
Speaking of young drivers, it surely will not be too long before we see Theo Pourchaire become a Formula 1 driver, but this move may come just a little bit too soon for the 18-year-old.
The teenage Frenchman looked impressive on his in-season test at the Hungaroring before the summer break, in his first taste of driving a Formula 1 car.
But as Pourchaire is also a Sauber junior driver, the team will have a vested interest in making sure he continues his development to eventually end up in F1.
The current Formula 2 driver is very much seen as one for the future at the team, but Alfa appear to be set to offer the seat to a more proven quantity in the immediate term.
The PlanetF1 verdict: