Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur admitted he would prefer hiring a non-rookie driver to fill a vacant seat inside his team due to the small number of test days given to young drivers.
The 2021 Formula 1 driver’s market is currently reaching a peak moment as announcements coming from Mercedes, Williams, and Alfa Romeo seem very close. Although Mercedes and Williams making announcements to update their respective driver lineups is hypothetical to this date, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement earlier this week, forcing the Italian manufacturer to sign a substitute.
Actual speculations are suggesting that Alfa Romeo is ready to sign Valtteri Bottas and Nyck de Vries for 2022, while Williams would hire Alexander Albon, making George Russell an obvious choice for Mercedes.
After confirming that he wants to sign a substitute for Raikkonen before the Russian Grand Prix, Vasseur detailed his ambitions for his future lineup, admitting he is wary of rookie drivers like Theo Pourchaire due to the small number of test days made available to help the youngsters develop their abilities behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.
“I’m not sure that the change of regulation has something to do with this. I would say that it’s probably more the limited number of test days. We have to consider the point between the others in the driver choice,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.
“I’m much more concerned about the number of these days when you’re speaking about a rookie because you have six, or eight days if you consider the end-of-season test days.
“It means that it’s three per driver with the new car. You could imagine also reliability issues, or bad weather conditions as we had two years ago, or even in Bahrain. We have to consider all these points.
“But even this when you’re choosing a driver, I want to have a mid-term contract. You don’t have to be focused just on the first two events, but you need to have a mid-term deal.”
Alfa Romeo’s contract with Ferrari will come to an end at the end of the season, giving the Italian manufacturer the possibility to hire a driver that is not part of the Ferrari driver academy. This aspect is putting Antonio Giovinazzi’s seat at risk, although Vasseur did not want to rule out the possibility of reconducting the 27-year-old.
“The advantage is that we don’t have to take the decision today. Antonio has still some races in front of him, and he is in a good position, he is part of the family, he is doing a good job with us.
“We have a very strong relationship with Ferrari, we want to develop the relationship with Ferrari, and we are having a close look at the Academy, for sure.”