In a review of the 2021 season so far, the Racing Director of Alpine Davide Brivio explained the progress that the academy drivers made in 2021. Currently, the rookie Oscar Piastri tops the championship standings, ahead of another Alpine academy driver Guanyu Zhou who is driving his 3rd season in F2. Christian Lundgaard has made an IndyCar debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which has not been as good as Zhou's and Piastri's season so far.
As said by Brivio in the review: "On the whole, we’re quite happy with the season so far, even if sometimes the results do not reflect the potential,
"Firstly, in Formula 2, we are in a good situation, where we have three really great talents. Oscar and Zhou are 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship while Christian has been very unfortunate on a number of occasions this season and hasn’t quite had the opportunity to truly show his promise.
"The three drivers are talents that I’m sure other young driver programmes would like to have; such is the high level of Formula 2 this year.
”Oscar has been impressive as a rookie after winning Formula 3 last season and we’re excited to see how he can continue to progress. Zhou has a lot of experience in the category and will be in the mix by the end of the year.”
According to Mia Sharizman, the Alpine Academy Director, both Piastri and Zhou are hitting the targets established for them for this season. As he said: “A title challenge was always the primary objective going into Zhou’s third year and he has clearly shown that in the first half of the season.
"After securing his first win last year in Sochi, Zhou has shown the confidence to fight for more wins. He has had the most wins with three this year, including two Feature Race victories in Bahrain and Silverstone.
"He has improved his street circuit performances tremendously, with a podium in each event, which shows a step-up in his development. His excellent performance in Austrian FP1 validates the hard work that he puts in whilst in the Academy.
"Oscar’s performances in the first half of the season have been remarkable. The level of composure that we see in him when he has faced difficult situations shows he has what it takes to fight for the title all the way until the end of the season.
"Rene Rosin and everyone at PREMA have been magnificent in their working relationship with Oscar. Both seem to understand what the other needs. Oscar is the driver that has the most podiums and the only driver thus far that has been on the podium at every round.”
Although Lundgaard has had a difficult half of the season, Sharizman said that the Alpine academy is going to help him get back to his best performance. As said: "For Christian, it has been a difficult first half of the season.
"He can’t seem to replicate any of his performances from pre-season testing in a race weekend. He has had only four points-scoring finishes, but in saying this, two of them were podiums.
"Nevertheless, we know his level of talent and will stand beside him to get back to winning ways. He has everything to play for going into the final half of the year.”
Interestingly, Lundgaard took part in his first IndyCar race at Indianapolis this weekend, qualifying a sensational 4th and finishing the race in P12.
Sharizman believes that the goals are clear despite the fact that there is no clear way of progression for the academy drivers, due to the fact that the F1 seats are taken and Alpine does not have any customer team, but as he says the drivers should not lose sight of their development. As he said: "For the remainder of the season consistency is everything. I believe showing mental toughness and racing intelligence is what will get them to be fighting for the title by the last round. As an Academy, this will be the area that we will be focusing on with the drivers."