Alfa Romeo announced in November that it would race with an all-new driver pairing in 2022 after signing Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou with partner Valtteri Bottas, who comes from Mercedes.
It will be the first time since the start of the team’s existing engine deal and the deal with Ferrari in 2018 that it will not field one of the Italian marque’s young drivers in F1.
Current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc made his debut with the team – then known as Sauber – in 2018. The seat was filled by Giovinazzi from 2019 following Leclerc’s promotion to Ferrari’s senior team .
Alfa Romeo team boss Vasseur confirmed in July that he would have free choice over the range for 2022 after securing flexibility in talks with Ferrari over a new customer power unit deal.
But Vasseur made it clear at the end of the season that Alfa Romeo remained open to the idea of managing a young Ferrari driver in the future, depending on the situation and circumstances.
“Just because we decided to go with another option doesn’t mean we won’t be able to work with Ferrari again in the future,” Vasseur told UKTN.
“It has to be case by case, because the collaboration of the drivers, we cannot plan the next 10 years [and say] “OK, the next 10 years you will have a recruit”. Ferrari doesn’t need a driver [graduate to F1] every year.
“Also because at the entrance to the pipe, they don’t have a driver every year.
“We have to work on a case-by-case basis, and that is fully understood by both parties.”
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing, and Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
Besides Leclerc and Giovinazzi, a number of young Ferrari drivers have enjoyed racing in F1 with the Alfa Romeo team in recent years.
2020 F2 runner-up Callum Ilott was Alfa Romeo’s test and reserve driver last year, while Mick Schumacher took part in an F1 test session for the team before his graduation with Haas in 2021.
Ferrari announced its driver academy plans for 2022 earlier this week, confirming there will be no Formula 2 drivers this year.
Robert Shwartzman is set to spend a year on the sidelines as an official Ferrari test driver, but could be in line for some F1 appearances under new rules which require the team to hold at least two FP1 sessions a year for young pilots.