Alfa Romeo is a very strong team besides lagging at the back in the Formula 1 championship, but they remain a very attractive option to drivers in the market who are looking for a drive in the 2021 F1 season and even beyond. There are very many viable driver options for the team’s only two cockpits. Who are the most likely drivers to get the seats?
One of the seats depends on Kimi Raikkonen’s plans to extend his tenure at Alfa Romeo to 2021, when his deal will be expiring. The finn has being going back and forth on whether to call it quits at the end of the 2020 season or decide to stick around. If Kimi would decide to call it quits then Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg would be very suited for the Alfa Romeo seat. They have been highly linked to the team over the recent weeks as Perez is believed to have gotten in touch with the team after Racing Point let him go. Fred Vasseur, the Alfa Romeo team principal on the other hand is known to rate Hulkenberg highly.
Kimi Raikkonen will most probably remain with Alfa Romeo as the sources say, and it is something that the team is understood to want as the finn is proving time to time as he proves to be very critical to car development as the Red and white cars are showing a good form in the recent races with successful updates.
It appears that Kimi Raikkonen’s teammate will be a Ferrari backed driver, as Antonio Giovinazzi’s seat is up for grabs as Mick Schumacher who is the current Formula 2 championship leader and his Fellow Ferrari juniors Callum Illot and Robert Shwartzman who rank 2nd and 5th respectively in the F2 championship, being the potential drivers for the 2021 Alfa Romeo ride.
Vasseur says that he is very interested in the young drivers and so as Antonio Giovinazzi.
“also Antonio is on the list. We have to discuss with Antonio to see what we want to do, what also Ferrari wants to do on their side.” Vasseur said.
“We are not in a rush to make a decision, I think it’s important for the young kids also to perhaps finish the season, even if the last two races are quite late this season, but it’s important to have the final picture and not start the discussion in the middle of the season.
“[Ferrari] have three very good ones. Shwartzman as a rookie is doing a very strong job. Schumacher and Illot are performing. It’s much better feeling to be in this situation to have the choice between good ones than no choice.”
Alfa Romeo will have another opportunity to evaluate Schumacher, having already run him in the Bahrain in-season test in 2019, when he runs in a Grand Prix weekend session for the first time, taking the wheel of Giovinazzi’s car in FP1 at the upcoming Eifel Grand Prix. Sources say Schumacher is the favourite to get the second seat, however, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari are keeping their options open with two races still to go in the F2 championship.
Shwartzman is set for a test in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, with Alfa Romeo expected to run him. It may be we won’t get a final decision, then, until just before Christmas at the earliest. What of Callum Illot? Well he is running for Romain Grosjean in FP1 in Germany for Haas, with the Briton in strong contention to get a race seat at the American team next season.