The Alpine F1 team, moving on from its previous identity as Renault, are approaching matters with a different direction this decade. One of their objectives is to also place some of their stellar academy graduates at F1 teams, either at their own or at a rival outfit.
The loaning and facilitation of drivers between teams have been commonplace in the sport. Mercedes have the likes of George Russell and Esteban Ocon at Williams and Alpine respectively in similar arrangements.
Speaking in an interview, Alpine Academy director Mia Sharizman highlighted some drivers to look to in the future. He also believes that an association with other F1 teams to provide chances to their graduates can be independent of any probable power unit agreement.
He stated, “It doesn’t make it any easier for us [not to have a customer team]. Nevertheless… we have identified ways and means to ultimately get the drivers to a seat; without a power unit supply, or without any connection, there can still be a collaboration between other teams.
“I won’t divulge too much. But yes, we are actively in discussions with various teams that are a potential with regards to drivers, not necessarily with connecting of power units and stuff like that.”
The likes of Guanyu Zhou, Christian Lundgaard, and Oscar Piastri are just three of the notable names in the team’s academy. Considering potential openings in F1 are hard to come by, the three young drivers will instead compete regularly in the FIA F2 championship.
“But obviously we have to look within ourselves first, to look into if we can place them with us. So it just makes the work harder, but we’re confident that… we can have a solution for them,” concluded Sharizman.
Recently, it was rumored that Alpine could initiate talks to enter a technical alliance with Williams. In that arrangement, the Grove-based outfit could then become a customer team in exchange for Renault’s engines and also facilitate driver loans.
Considering Fernando Alonso pairs up alongside Ocon at Alpine in 2021, there are likely to be lesser opportunities for Zhou and Co. at the team. It will hence be interesting to see if Alpine will provide their graduates with chances to drive the A521 car in any of the races’ free practice sessions.