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Alfa Romeo announced in November that it would race with an all-new driver pairing in 2022 after signing Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou to partner Valtteri Bottas, who joins from Mercedes.
It will be the first time since the start of the team’s existing engine deal and agreement with Ferrari in 2018 that it has not fielded 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 taken by Giovinazzi from 2019 following Leclerc’s promotion to Ferrari’s senior squad.
Alfa Romeo team boss Vasseur confirmed back in July that he would have free choice over the line-up for 2022 after securing flexibility in talks with Ferrari over a new customer power unit deal.
But Vasseur made clear at the end of the season that Alfa Romeo remained open to running a Ferrari young driver in the future, depending on the situation and circumstances.
“It’s not because we decided to go for another option that we won’t have the possibility to work with Ferrari again in the future,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.
“It has to be on a case-by-case basis, because the driver collaboration, you can’t plan for the next 10 years [and say] ‘OK, the next 10 years, you will get a rookie’. Ferrari don’t need to have a driver [graduate to F1] every single year.
“Also because at the entry of the pipe, they don’t have a driver every single year.
“We need to work on a case-by-case basis, and this is completely understood with 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 Ferrari young drivers have enjoyed F1 running with the Alfa Romeo squad in recent years.
F2 2020 runner-up Callum Ilott served as Alfa Romeo’s test and reserve driver last year, while Mick Schumacher took part in one F1 practice session for the team ahead of his graduation with Haas in 2021.
Ferrari announced its driver academy plans for 2022 earlier this week, confirming it would have zero drivers racing in Formula 2 this year.
Robert Shwartzman is set to spend a year on the sidelines working as Ferrari’s official test driver, but could be in line for some F1 practice appearances under the new rules that require team to hand at least two FP1 sessions per year to young drivers.
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