Bottas signing opens door for ‘rookie or experience’

Date published: September 10 2021 - Michelle Foster

Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo

Signing Valtteri Bottas for the 2022 season has opened the door for Alfa Romeo to put a “rookie”, or another “experienced” driver, in the second car.

That’s according to Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur.

The team announced earlier this week that Bottas, a nine-time grand prix winner with 169 starts to his name, had been signed as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement following the 2007 World Champion’s decision to quit F1.

The Mercedes driver’s experience means Alfa Romeo could comfortably place a rookie driver alongside him.

That’s good news for Formula 2 teenager Theo Pourchaire and also Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou, whose sponsors are said to be willing to pay €30million to put the Chinese driver in the seat for 2022.

But that doesn’t mean Antonio Giovinazzi is definitely out of a drive with Vasseur adamant the Italian is doing a fine job.

“Everything is open, including Antonio,” the Frenchman said via Autosport. “Antonio is doing a good job.

“But I think that to be able to recruit and to welcome Valtteri is a huge opportunity for us.

“Then it doesn’t matter if the team-mate is a rookie or an experienced guy, we will benefit of the experience and the speed of Valtteri.

“I won’t make any comment on who is on the list and who is not. On some of them it’s looks a bit difficult due to the link they have with engine suppliers.

“We have a contract with Ferrari, and it looks difficult to do these kinds of deals, or impossible. And let’s see about the others.”

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Giovinazzi admitted on Thursday that he is still hopeful, the Italian revealing he is not even looking at other options such is his desire to remain in Formula 1.

Vasseur says that is not false hope that his driver has, he still has “two or three” races to save his seat.

“I think that with Antonio, let’s see over the next two or three events,” said the team boss.

“But perhaps he has turned the page of the past, and this situation could be a good wake-up call also. I want to have a clear picture before I take any decisions with my shareholders.”