The Renault F1 team rebranded as Alpine F1 for the 2021 season. Recently, Alpine unveiled the five members from their academy. They are Oscar Piastri, Guanyu Zhou, Christian Lundgaard, Vitor Martins, and Caio Collet.
Lundgaard and Zhou will drive in F2 with ART Grand Prix and UNI Virtuosi, respectively. Whereas reigning F3 champion Oscar Piastri will join F2 with Prema.
What does Alpine Academy Boss say about the young drivers?
The Alpine Academy director Mia Sharizman said that Zhou and Lundgaard will compete for the title this year. As they could not win the Championship last year. While he also expects an excellent performance from Piastri, as he did in F3.
Sharizman said, “The Academy enters an important phase in its growth since we started the programme in 2016,
“On paper, this year we have a very experienced line-up with seventeen victories and two championships shared between our drivers from their respective seasons last year.
“We have three very competitive drivers in Formula 2 this year, all of whom have proven they can win.
“For Zhou, it’s his third year in the series and it’s time for him to combine his experience and potential to win the title.
“We also have high expectations for Christian who can challenge for the title this year having shown us all glimpses of his potential last season.
“Whilst for Oscar, who is the rookie in Formula 2 for us, enters this year with great confidence after winning the Formula 3 crown last year.”
Are the other driving academies beating Alpine Academy?
The Alpine Academy’s focus is to place their academy drivers in Formula 1 championship. However, there are no seats available for the juniors this season. In their senior team, Esten Ocon will be out of contract at the end of the 2021 season. Further, Fernando Alonso is returning to Formula with a two-year contract with Alpine F1. He is filling in the seat of Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari and Mercedes already placed their academy drivers in Formula 1, Mick Schumacher from Ferrari Driver Academy is in Hass F1 for the 2021 season, while Mercedes has George Russell in Williams.
Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull Racing also have teams like Alfa Romeo, Hass, and Alpha Tauri affiliated to them. Whereas Alpine got no contacts with other teams in 2021. Their only potential partner McLaren also moved to Mercedes for their power unit in 2021. Alpine is prioritizing building contacts with other teams to promote their young talents in F1.
What is Alpine F1 thinking for their youngsters’ future?
Director Sharizman already acknowledges the task to be difficult. But he also said that there is still time for the youngsters to drive in Formula 1. Sharizman said, “You have Zhou in his third year, Christian in his second, and Oscar as the rookie, so it’s a different way of planning. Having said that, Christian and Zhou and Oscar no less, all are competing step-by-step for podiums, for wins and ultimately at the end of the day, for championships.
“If you ask me if all of them are top three, I will take it anytime. But yes it will bring the situation similar to what the FDA went through last year. At the moment we do feel, in the case of Oscar, there is not so much expectation. We are aware of how he can progress.”
But Alpine is working on ways to get their youngsters in Formula 1. Alpine Academy Boss said, “We have to have a Plan A and a Plan B already for now, and that is something that is in the back of our minds. We think it will be OK for us and we can manage it well to ensure that the three drivers that we have get up there and where they want to be.
“Without a power unit supply or without any connection, there can still be a collaboration between other teams. I won’t divulge too much into it, but we focus on what we have, the two race seats that we have. We focus on the Academy that we have and we focus on the tools that we have.
“We have actively run our F1 test programmes for the Academy for the past three years, and I think that is something is how we can identity and put the drivers in that we believe in.
“Obviously, going into our team is the priority. But we believe that there is still a collaboration with other teams irrespective of the power unit supply.”
What we can get from Alpine F1 in the future?
Alpine F1 is giving their all to become a power team in Formula 1. In the future, we might see Alpine in the top three. Further, the way they are trying to promote their young talents, the young drivers can pave their way in the Formula 1 grid by 2023.