Alpine CEO confident of academy drivers’ F1 pathway

Oscar Piastri

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says the fact his team has two contracted drivers for 2022 doesn’t mean the path to Formula 1 is blocked for its Academy protégés.

Ocon this month signed a new deal tying him to the team formerly known as Renault until the end of 2024.

That ensured Alpine will carry an unchanged line-up into next season, given two-time world champion Fernando Alonso joined on a two-year deal starting 2021 to replace Daniel Ricciardo.

Ocon’s extension was perceived as bad news for the immediate hopes of Alpine’s talented array of Academy drivers, which includes Australian youngster Oscar Piastri and Guanyu Zhou of China.

Zhou and Piastri are first and second in the Formula 2 standings after three rounds.

When asked about their situation – noting that the Formula 2 champion is ineligible to return to the second-tier class – Rossi was optimistic.

“They have also to show their value this year, first of all, and then some of them next year and then there’s always options,” he said.

“The roster is seemingly full for next year but then there’s the following year, subsequent years.

“So, Fernando is on a two-year contract with us at the moment until the end of next year.

“There could be options after that, depending on how he feels like, performance and if we want to carry on the journey together or not.

“There’s reserve drivers options in our team and there’s also options in other teams. I mean, that’s how you manage the talents.

“And at some point when the moment is right, I’m sure we’ll find them a seat.”

That seemingly opens up the possibility for Alpine to place the likes of Zhou or Piastri at another F1 team next year or later, should Alonso continue beyond 2022.

Piastri himself has spoken of his desire to make the step up as soon as next year.

Alpine is seventh in the 2021 constructors’ championship, albeit just 15 points behind fifth-placed AlphaTauri, with Aston Martin wedged between.

The Formula 1 season continues with the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

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