Alfa Romeo says its not “in a rush” to announce who will partner Valtteri Bottas at the team in 2022, but has ruled out F2 title contender Oscar Piastri for the seat.
The Swiss-based outfit holds the one remaining vacant seat on the Formula 1 grid for next year, and is currently in the process of considering its driver options.
Having announced Bottas’ arrival in September, Alfa suggested it would make a call on the Finn’s team-mate the same month, but has now delayed its decision.
“We are not in a rush to take this decision,” said Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur. “We have a couple of options on the table and we have to take time to decide, but we are not in a rush.
“The situation won’t change over the next couple of days and we will take a decision soon.”
Paddock gossip suggests Guanyu Zhou is the front-runner for the drive, although the Chinese driver sits behind Piastri in the drivers’ standings.
Piastri, who won the F3 title in 2020, is leading the F2 championship with just two rounds remaining, leading to many feeling he deserves a shot in F1 next year.
But Vasseur hinted it won’t make a move for Piastri due to his close links with Alpine, who the Australian represents under its driver academy.
“Oscar is doing a very good job and was very consistent over the last few weekends, but as far as I know he is linked with Renault or Alpine,” said Vasseur.
F1 is set to introduce new rules that will force teams to run rookie drivers in a number of FP1 sessions next year, which could see Piastri take a test role with Alpine for 2022.
With this in mind, Vasseur felt it wouldn’t make sense for Alpine to let Piastri join a rival outfit after bringing him up through the junior categories.
“If you invest in a driver for all the junior series and have a long term programme with him, I don’t see the point to let him go to another team, it would be strange,” Vasseur said.
Nevertheless, Vasseur rates Piastri as one of the most exciting young talents coming through the ranks, tipping him to have a bright future.
“If you compare with the past, he is doing a very, very strong job but it is crystal clear he is one of the best of the field today and he did a great job last year fighting until the last event,” he said.
“He is one of the young kids that will be successful in F1 for sure.”