Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur says his team will not take the new Ferrari engine as it would mean grid penalties and added costs.
This has been a difficult campaign for the Swiss-based outfit with only seven points on the board, although it was always going to be tough with Alfa Romeo bypassing all development of the C41 to focus on their new challenger for 2022, the first season under Formula 1’s new regulations.
An update which is available to the team though is Ferrari’s new hybrid system, although Alfa Romeo will not be taking it as that would mean work on the C41 to ensure the new power unit could fit into the chassis.
Alfa Romeo also do not want to start incurring engine penalties when the midfield battle is so tight.
“It would mean starting-place penalties and cost a lot of money because we have to adjust the chassis first,” Vasseur told Auto Motor und Sport of the decision not to take Ferrari’s upgrade.
“We prefer to put the resources into more important things.”
The more important things Vasseur references is the new 2022 car but although that has been Alfa Romeo’s full focus, they have still made gains with their 2021 package having “improved in tyre management and race preparation”.
And the fact Vasseur sees just a couple of tenths between the front and back end of the midfield shows how even slight gains are vital for the team.
“We are between sixth and 16th place in this large midfield. If we deliver a perfect Saturday we can land at the front end. If not, we are at the back,” said Vasseur.
“In the area in which we compete, two tenths can make a huge difference in position. You quickly look better or worse than you actually are.”
The first part of Alfa Romeo’s 2022 line-up is set with Valtteri Bottas making the move from Mercedes, although his team-mate is not yet confirmed.
As it stands, it would be Antonio Giovinazzi, although his seat is very much under threat.
That said, Giovinazzi has impressed Vasseur in recent races, for he feels the Italian really stepped up his game and became team leader when Kimi Raikkonen missed the Dutch and Italian GPs through illness.
“When Kimi was away for two races due to coronavirus, Antonio grew in his role as team leader,” Vasseur stated.
“He took on more responsibility and worked more consistently over the weekend. Antonio has improved every practice.
“Before, there were more ups and downs. He was often fast in the free practice sessions but couldn’t do the same in qualifying.”
If Giovinazzi was to be replaced, Guanyu Zhou or Sauber-backed Theo Pourchaire are favourites to join Alfa Romeo.
Currently P2 in the Formula 2 standings, Zhou has the most realistic chance of taking the title which would stop him from returning to the series, while, aged only 18, Pourchaire continues to establish himself as a possible future star having claimed two race wins already this season.
However, complicating Alfa Romeo’s decision is the fact Formula 2 does not return to action until December, so there is a long wait to see how the title race will play out.
“The next two races are not until December. We can’t predict today who will be champion,” said Vasseur.
Could Piastri, not Zhou, drive for Alfa Romeo next season?
With Guanyu Zhou apparently demanding too long a contract, Alfa Romeo could turn to Oscar Piastri but such a move seems unlikely.