Who should get the final seat at Alfa Romeo F1 in 2022?29 Sep
Who should get the final seat at Alfa Romeo for 2021?
The final pieces in the jigsaw that is the Formula 1 driver market are starting to fall into place ahead of the 2022 season, with just one seat remaining at Alfa Romeo Racing.
The Swiss outfit have already confirmed nine-time Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas for next season after his high-profile switch from Mercedes, but the identity of his new team-mate remains to be seen.
So, here at Red Eye HQ, we’ve cast an eye over a few of the potential candidates to become the Flying Finn’s closest ally – and biggest rival – for next campaign.
Stick with what you know - Antonio Giovinazzi
Let’s start with the incumbent, Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian has been with the team for some five seasons now in various capacities, stretching back to his debut in Australia back in 2017.
The relationship has had its high points – a career-best fifth in Brazil back in 2019 – but is often characterised by consistent, midfield-running form. This season, Giovinazzi has outperformed an ageing Kimi Raikkonen on the other side of the garage on just five occasions.
A tenth-place finish in Monaco stands as his only points finish of the season; by way of comparison, Raikkonen has six. Giovinazzi seems to have a habit of finding an extra gear when silly season starts and would offer the team some valuable consistency alongside Bottas, but the team may well opt to start over with an injection of fresh talent.
Dip into the Formula 2 market – Guanyu Zhou
Zhou has been arguably the most talked about driver in the junior categories during silly season, with regard to a possible promotion into a Formula 1 race seat for 2022.
The Chinese driver has been among the front-runners in the primary feeder category, and sits second to Oscar Piastri with three victories, a further four podiums and a pole position so far this campaign, and six races left to run.
Zhou is a member of the Alpine Academy but, with their line-up of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon confirmed for ’22, that door looks to be closed for the time being.
The window to graduate from F2 to the sport’s top table is often narrow, so Zhou may have to take whatever opportunity is on the table and would represent a fresh injection of talent to an Alfa line-up that has remained steady at its core for several seasons now.
Take a chance on me – Oscar Piastri
Piastri – a protégé of fellow Australian Mark Webber – has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the junior ranks of late.
After finishing as runner-up in British Formula 4, the Australian has gone on to win the Formula Renault Eurocup and FIA Formula 3 titles in consecutive seasons and looks on course to add the Formula 2 crown to his already-glittering CV before the year is out.
The 20-year-old from Melbourne, famous as the host city for nation’s Grand Prix, lacks some of the financial firepower of his contemporaries, but there’s little doubting that, in Piastri, Alfa Romeo would pick up arguably the most in-form driver beneath the sport’s top level.
The electrifying option? – Nyck de Vries
When Mercedes junior De Vries won the Formula 2 title – then promptly departed to join the German’s marque’s fledgling Formula E setup alongside Stoffel Vandoorne – it seemed the Dutchman had made the decision in the absence of any opportunities from F1.
However, having tasted success in the series’ first campaign as a fully-fledged World Championship, De Vries has been back on the rumour mill, with some suggestion his Formula E title could pave the way for a Grand Prix debut.
There’s no doubting the 26-year-old has the pace and race craft to compete at the sport’s top table, but Ferrari-affiliated Alfa are unlikely to make special considerations for a rival team’s driver, so this one might ultimately just be a case of ‘what if’.
Who would you put in the second seat alongside Bottas? Let us know in the comments.