The drivers they unveiled as part of their academy are Guanyu Zhou, Oscar Piastri, Christian Lundgaard, Victor Martins and Caio Collet. Zhou and Lundgaard will be returning to Formula 2 with UNI Virtuosi and ART Grand Prix respectively, while Piastri as promoted to the category with Prema after his F3 title win last year.
Mia Sharizman, Alpine Academy director, said that they expect both Zhou and Lundgaard to fight for the F2 title this year after last year’s struggle to feature in the championship’s battle. But the team appears to be limited on options to place its junior drivers in F1 in the seasons to come.
In the senior squad we have Fernando Alonso, who has signed for 2021 on a two-year deal, and Esteban Ocon, who is out of contract when this year’s season comes to an end.
If we take a look at other teams and their junior drivers we have: Ferrari being able to place young drivers with Alfa Romeo and Haas for 2021 and Mercedes with George Russell at Williams. The only customer team Renault, now Alpine, had in F1 last year was McLaren, but since they switched to Mercedes power units they left Alpine without any affiliations to other teams in the grid.
Sharizman declared that it will not be easy for Alpine, but that they were confident there would be other ways to work with the other teams to place their junior drivers without an existing affiliation with them.
“It is something that we have identified, ways and means to ultimately get the drivers to our seat,” Sharizman said.
“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.
She also exclaimed that going into their team was the priority, but that they believe there is still room for collaboration with other teams, regardless of who their power unit supplier is.
Alpine had their three F2 drivers in private F1 testing this year, sampling the 2018-spec Renault car, but it is not clear what appearances they will have this year.
Sharizman feels each driver is at a different step of their careers, despite all of them being on the last step towards F1.