The spare seat at Alfa Romeo is currently at the center of attention as it seems the most unstable and undetermined seat in F1. With the current situation evolving, the decision from Vasseur might come sooner than expected.
Following Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to retire at the end of 2021, Alfa Romeo has recently announced Valtteri Bottas will be driving for the team from 2022 onwards. However, the moves at the Swiss team might not be over yet with the second seat remaining as undetermined as ever.
The current form and results obtained by Antonio Giovinazzi are convincing many the Italian deserves his seat at Alfa Romeo and should be confirmed for the 2022 season. In Monza, Giovinazzi was able for the third time this season to enter Q3 with what is probably the second slowest car on the grid. The Italian was always particularly unlucky during the races but the qualifying pace shown has been impressive.
On the other side, many are showing their increasing interest in the spare seat, starting from F2 driver Guanyu Zhou and FE Champion Nyck De Vries. The Chinese is currently in his third season in F2 and is proving a strong contender for the title behind Oscar Piastri. Despite being linked with the Alpine Academy and considering the lack of opportunities present at the French team who confirmed both its drivers for 2022, Zhou has been emerging as a strong possibility for the seat at Alfa Romeo.
Moreover, as reported by Marca, Zhou’s sponsors are believed to have offered 30 million euros to Alfa Romeo in exchange for the spare seat. The Chinese, however, doesn’t seem to be the best choice according to team principal Vasseur as the F2 driver wants a long-term contract that the Swiss team isn’t ready to offer.
The reason behind Alfa Romeo’s resistance is due to the “terrific kid” Theo Pourchaire, who is currently racing in F2 with Art GP. The Frenchman, who is only 18 years old, came runner-up to Piastri in 2020 during his rookie season in F3 and is now impressing in his rookie season in the main feeder series. Pourchaire is a member of the Sauber Academy and has recently become F2 youngest-ever victor winning the feature race in Monaco at only 17 years old.
It is clear that whatever decision Frederic Vasseur will take will somehow be influenced by the presence of Theo Pourchaire and the strong faith Alfa Romeo is showing in the young Frenchman. Vasseur had previously admitted to Motorsport Week he is considering Pourchaire for an F1 seat: “Considering for next year? I don’t know, but I’m considering Theo, I don’t know if it is for next year or the future. But Theo is part of the family, he is part of the [Sauber] Academy, we are spending a lot of energy on Theo because we are convinced Theo is one of the best ones for the future. Now, I don’t know if it will be ‘22, ‘23, ‘24, but I’m convinced that he, at one stage, will be one of the best ones [for the future].”
Michael Schmidt declared on Auto, Motor und Sport that the decision might come after Sochi: “Vasseur told me that he wants to see the F2 races in Monza and Sochi and then make a decision, so that could already imply that it will be a junior driver”
Theo Pourchaire confirmed the open door at Alfa Romeo to Motorsport Week: “I’m still fully focused on this year. We still have a full second half of the season to do. But I know that I have to do two good weekends in Monza and Sochi. This could probably decide my future.”.
Considering Theo’s recent victory in Monza, it seems like the Frenchman is on the right path to the main series. All that needs to be decided is whether Pourchaire will be ready in 2022 and the last call is once again in Vasseur’s hands.
Headline Image: Stellantis Media
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