Nov.10 (GMM) Alfa Romeo is now counting down the days before completing the 2022 grid by announcing the identity of Valtteri Bottas’ teammate.
The Sauber-run outfit is also making plans to give Bottas an early taste of life at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo with a run at the post Abu Dhabi-test.
“We are having discussions with Mercedes about that,” team boss Frederic Vasseur revealed.
Also on the agenda is the identity of the Finn’s 2022 teammate, amid reports the relationship with incumbent Antonio Giovinazzi has broken down.
“Yes, we have already made a decision on the other driver,” Vasseur told France’s Canal Plus. “Announcing the name is simply a formality.
“You will find out our decision on the evening of November 16 after the Brazilian GP,” he told the French broadcaster.
The favourites for the seat are Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri, who are currently battling to win the Formula 2 championship.
Both are members of Alpine’s driver academy, and also under consideration to join Bottas at the post-season Abu Dhabi test in December.
“That means I have to sit down soon with (Alpine CEO) Laurent (Rossi) soon, but the link to Renault is not a problem for me,” said Vasseur.
“It could be a Ferrari driver too,” the Frenchman admitted. “We don’t have to work together already.”
As for the 2022 race driver, however, he ruled out his own personal favourite – 18-year-old Frenchman Theo Pourchaire. That is despite his membership of Sauber’s academy and as a driver of the Vasseur-linked ART team.
“I want Theo to have every weapon at his disposal to arrive in Formula 1,” said Vasseur.
“We are currently thinking about giving him a solid test program in F1 to prepare him well. I remember Lewis (Hamilton) could have gone to Formula 1 earlier too, but he made the right choice at the time.”
Overall, Vasseur is confident Alfa Romeo will make a reasonable step forward in 2022.
“My personal feeling is that we will make a good jump with the engine, possibly also with the drivers, and we decided to stop development of the 2021 car very soon to work in 2022 – before the others.
“Others will also have to reduce their expenses while we operate within the budget ceiling. Our motivation is to improve. If we finish sixth, I’ll be happy.
“I don’t need to be first now,” he smiled.