Five drivers that should be on Alfa Romeo’s 2022 F1 shortlist

Frederic Vasseur has confirmed that Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou is among “five or six” drivers on the shortlist being considered by Alfa Romeo for a Formula 1 seat in 2022. 
Five drivers that should be on Alfa Romeo’s 2022 F1 shortlist

Alfa Romeo has one seat left up for grabs having signed Valtteri Bottas to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen as its de-facto team leader for next season, and there is plenty of interest in the sole-remaining spot on the F1 grid for 2022. 

With Antonio Giovinazzi out of contract at the end of the year, the 27-year-old Italian once again finds himself facing an uncertain future amid rumours linking a host of drivers with the seat he currently occupies. 

Vasseur stressed on Friday at the Italian Grand Prix that Alfa Romeo is in no rush to make a final decision on its 2022 line-up and will evaluate how the Formula 2 frontrunners including Zhou fare over the coming races in Italy and Russia before making a call at the end of the month. 

One driver who has already ruled himself out of the running is Aston Martin reserve Nico Hulkenberg, who has accepted his F1 career is probably over after revealing he has not held talks with Alfa Romeo. 

Guanyu Zhou (CHN) Alpine F1 Team RS20 Test Driver.
Guanyu Zhou (CHN) Alpine F1 Team RS20 Test Driver.

Sauber’s record-breaking star Theo Pourchaire has been mooted as an option for 2022 after impressing Alfa Romeo during his recent maiden F1 test at the Hungaroring and his stellar rookie F2 season.

However, it appears that promotion for 2023 would be more realistic for the 18-year-old Frenchman, with Vasseur vary about fast-tracking a rookie heading into F1’s rules revolution. 

“Theo is doing a good job, he did two huge performances,” Vasseur said. “Monaco was a good one but also Silverstone. Then we have to let Theo [have] the time to improve. 

“F1 is very complicated, we have a very limited number of test days, next year we have a new car, all the teams could have reliability issues.

“It means we could arrive at Bahrain with a very low mileage. We have to consider this also. For the driver it’s never easy, it’s a challenge, but we have to give them time, for sure.”

With all of the above in mind, here’s a look at five potential candidates who Alfa Romeo should also be considering… 

Antonio Giovinazzi 

With Bottas signed up on a multi-year deal, it would seem the second seat alongside the Finn might only be a short-term option if Alfa Romeo wants to promote Pourchaire in 2023. 

If Alfa Romeo is seeking a driver to be a potential one-year stop-gap before Pourchaire is ready to graduate, then it should look no further than its current incumbent Giovinazzi. 

The 27-year-old has been a consistent performer and shown improvements in each of the three seasons he has competed in F1. 

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Alfa Romeo Racing C41.
Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Alfa Romeo Racing C41.

At the Dutch Grand Prix, Giovinazzi scored the team’s best qualifying result of the year to claim seventh on the grid with a stunning lap and was unfortunate that a puncture ruined his chances of a points finish. 

He advanced to Q3 for the second week running in Friday’s qualifying for the sprint race for his home event with a performance that underlined his motivation to retain his seat for a fourth successive campaign. 

A Bottas-Giovinazzi pairing would form a low-risk, strong midfield combination that should score a lot of points in machinery that is capable of regularly reaching the top 10.

However, a change in contractual arrangements means that Ferrari no longer has influence over a seat for one of its Ferrari Driver Academy members, something that could ultimately hurt Giovinazzi’s chances.

Nyck de Vries 

Newly-crowned Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries was thought to be a favourite for the seat along with Red Bull reserve Alex Albon, who ultimately favoured a move to Williams. 

It now seems that de Vries’ chances of a career change and landing an F1 drive for 2022 are fading, something that Vasseur hinted at when he spoke of the Dutchman’s Mercedes ties as being a potential stumbling block. 

Five drivers that should be on Alfa Romeo’s 2022 F1 shortlist

“For sure it’s not the most comfortable situation,” Vasseur explained. “I think Nyck did a good job in the junior series, he won F2 with ART, he won FE this season and did a good job when he jumped into the F1 car at Abu Dhabi last year, I think. 

"I know him very well because he drove for ART for a couple of years in the past. I think the situation with Mercedes is not an easy one.”

Having underlined his talent by winning both the Formula 2 and Formula E titles, de Vries would be deserving of a chance to prove himself in F1. 

At 26, de Vries has already racked up plenty of motorsport experience and while he would be classed as a grand prix rookie, there is little reason to suggest the Dutchman would be out of his depth in F1.

Oscar Piastri

Alpine junior Oscar Piastri sent a statement to the F1 paddock on Friday as he topped Formula 2 qualifying and claimed his second pole position in the series for Sunday’s feature race. 

Although a move to Alfa Romeo would not be a conventional route into F1 for Piastri, Alpine has made it clear it would be open to striking a deal with another team in order to get its juniors on the grid, with both of its seats locked out for 2022 and seemingly beyond. 

Five drivers that should be on Alfa Romeo’s 2022 F1 shortlist

The 20-year-old Australian has been a sensation in 2021 and is looking to follow in the footsteps of Charles Leclerc and George Russell by clinching back-to-back Formula 3 and F2 titles. It would mark his third championship success in consecutive seasons, having won the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019.

Piastri’s pace and consistency would suggest he is more than capable of achieving that feat, having impressively outperformed his highly-rated and more experienced Prema teammate, Robert Shwartzman. 

If Zhou is in the frame for an Alfa Romeo seat, then Piastri should definitely also be in the equation. 

It would be a huge shame for Piastri to be overlooked and miss out on an opportunity in F1, especially if he ends up winning the F2 title in his rookie campaign.

Callum Ilott 

Another driver who appears to be an outsider for an F1 promotion in 2022 is Callum Ilott. 

The 22-year-old Briton was unfortunate to miss out on a seat for this season after finishing second in the 2020 F2 championship and narrowly missing out on the title to Mick Schumacher, who earned graduation with Haas. 

Callum Ilott (GBR) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Reserve Driver.
Callum Ilott (GBR) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Reserve Driver.

Alongside his test and reserve duties for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, Ilott has raced in sportscars and made a foray into IndyCar

Ilott may be a riskier option compared to the likes of de Vries or Piastri, but there is no doubting his speed and natural talent. As unlikely as it may seem, Ilott would prove an exciting addition to the F1 grid. 

Daniil Kvyat 

If Alfa Romeo wants a more experienced option to partner Bottas, ex-Red Bull racer and current Alpine reserve Daniil Kvyat could be an interesting option. 

Kvyat faced an exit from F1 for the second time at the end of 2020 when he lost his AlphaTauri seat to Yuki Tsunoda, but the Russian has shown he has the speed to be a consistent midfield runner. 

At 27, he is still young and certainly would return to F1 with a point to prove and highly motivated following his demotions. 

An F1 comeback has remained the priority for Kvyat, who would surely jump at the chance to return with Alfa Romeo, even if it was only on a short-term basis.

Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver.
Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver.

Read More