Three F2 drivers join five-strong Alpine academy

Three F2 drivers join five-strong Alpine academy

Formula 1

Three F2 drivers join five-strong Alpine academy

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Alpine has named a five-driver academy line-up for 2021 that includes a trio of Formula 2 drivers and two in Formula 3.

Guanyu Zhou, Christian Lundgaard and Oscar Piastri will all compete in Formula 2 under the Alpine umbrella, with Zhou and Lundgaard remaining at their previous teams of UNI-Virtuosi and ART Grand Prix respectively. Piastri on the other hand won last year’s F3 title and steps up with Prema Racing to replace Haas-bound Mick Schumacher.

Alpine will also be represented in F3 as both Victor Martins and Caio Collet — title rivals for the Formula Renault Eurocup last year — move into the category as teammates at MP Motorsport. Martins came out on top in the fight against Brazilian Collet last season, earning himself a return to the Alpine academy having been dropped the year before.

Alpine Cars CEO Laurent Rossi says the target remains the same for the academy despite a recent rebranding, as it looks to deliver a future Formula 1 world champion for the works team.

“We are proud to announce the academy’s sixth driver line-up and its first as part of the Alpine Racing universe,” Rossi said. “Having a young driver program is part of our DNA as a race team and as in previous years, the academy will draw benefits from the development of the Formula 1 team.

“The academy’s goal has been to develop and push our young drivers into Formula 1 to become a champion with the F1 team, and we remain committed as ever to seeing this goal achieved. This year we are eager to watch our academy prospects in both Formula 2 and Formula 3 continue to go from strength to strength as they represent the Alpine name.”

With the three F2 drivers at various stages of their careers — Zhou in his third season, Lundgaard his second and Piastri a rookie — academy director Mia Sharizman says expectations are high for the trio.

“The academy enters an important phase in its growth since we started the program in 2016,” Sharizman said. “On paper, this year we have a very experienced line-up with 17 victories and two championships shared between our drivers from their respective seasons last year. We have three very competitive drivers in Formula 2 this year, all of whom have proven they can win.

“For Zhou, it’s his third year in the series and it’s time for him to combine his experience and potential to win the title. We also have high expectations for Christian who can challenge for the title this year, having shown us all glimpses of his potential last season. Oscar, who is the rookie in Formula 2 for us, enters this year with great confidence after winning the Formula 3 crown last year.

“Our driver pairing in Formula 3 this year is also very strong, with last year’s Eurocup champion Victor and runner-up Caio racing for MP Motorsport. We are very happy to welcome back Victor, who was first with us in 2018. The drivers in the academy know what is around the corner for them within our Formula 1 structure. The opportunity will come for those who perform the best.”

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