Alpine does not need links to find F1 seats for juniors

Date published: February 10 2021

Alpine Academy

Alpine do not believe that their lack of affiliations in Formula 1 will stop them finding seats for their junior drivers.

The team have been given a complete rebranding ahead of the 2020 campaign, out goes Renault and in comes the Alpine name.

The Renault Sport Academy boasted a very talented collection of junior drivers, and the majority of them have been retained for this new era as Alpine Academy racers, landing seats across Formula 2 and Formula 3.

Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard, both remaining in Formula 2 for 2021, are seen as the prospects closest to making it onto the Formula 1 grid, while reigning Formula 3 Champion Oscar Piastri, who remains with Prema for 2021 as he joins the F2 grid, will be looking to muscle his way to the front of the queue.

But, although a nice problem to have, their will likely come a point where these drivers need to take that leap into Formula 1, and aside from the Alpine team, there are no other obvious options.

Ferrari and Red Bull are the other outfits with the deepest reserves of junior drivers, but Ferrari have links with both Haas and Alfa Romeo which they can use to get their juniors onto the grid, as they have done with Mick Schumacher who will race for Haas in 2021.

Red Bull meanwhile have their sister team AlphaTauri, who welcome Honda-backed Japanese racer Yuki Tsunoda into the team for 2021.

And Mercedes of course have their brightest prospect George Russell preparing for his third Formula 1 season over at Williams.

Nonetheless, Alpine Academy director Mia Sharizman doesn’t think the lack of affiliations for Alpine would hinder the team’s future chances of bringing their rookies into Formula 1 with another team.

“It is something that we have identified, ways and means to ultimately get the drivers to our seat,” Sharizman is quoted by Autosport.

“Without a power unit supply or without any connections, there can still be a collaboration between other teams. I won’t divulge too much into it.

“But having said that, we focus on what we have, we focus on the two race seats that we have, the academy that we have, and the tools that we have.

“Obviously, going into our team is the priority. But we believe that there is still room for collaboration with other teams, irrespective of the power unit supply.”

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Zhou and Lundgaard are expected to be title contenders in the 2021 F2 season, while Oscar Piastri will be looking to get to grips with the series as a rookie, meaning all three Alpine juniors are at different stages of their careers despite racing in the same category.

“The three of them are three different years, going into the championship: you have Zhou in his third year, Christian in his second year, and obviously Oscar is a rookie,” Sharizman continued.

“It’s slightly a different proposition, and a different way of planning.

“It will bring the situation similar to what Ferrari has gone through last year. But at the moment, we do feel that for example in the case of Oscar, it would take time, but without that expectation, we are aware of how he can progress.

“We have to have a Plan A and a Plan B already for now. That is something that is in the back of our mind. We think it will be OK for us, and we can manage it well, and how we can ensure that the three drivers that we have get up to where they want to be.”

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