Alpine academy has 'too many good drivers' with no place to go

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowksi says that its driver academy is facing a glut of young talent for... The post Alpine academy has 'too many good drivers' with no place to go appeared first on F1i.com.

Alpine academy has 'too many good drivers' with no place to go

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowksi says that its driver academy is facing a glut of young talent for which it cannot currently provide an access to Formula 1.

Since its inception in 2016 under its Renault guise, the French manufacturer's driver program has supported many junior hopefuls, building its pool of talent over the years.

But it has yet to succeed in bringing a young driver into F1, a shortfall due in part to a lack of available seats at the highest level but also due to Alpine not having an affiliate team towards which it would be able to channel its young guns.

Alpine protégés Oscar Piastri and Guanyou Zhou are currently leading the FIA Formula 2 Championship. While the former has no chance of joining the fray in F1 next season, the latter could make his entry among the elite, but with Alfa Romeo Racing, a move that would deprive Alpine of a return on its investment in the Chinese charger.

Budkowski therefore argues that Alpine needs to reach a compromise between the benefit it can derive from supporting young drivers and allowing them to step up to the next level outside of the Alpine tribe while maintaining a link with the latter.

"We have an academy and we’ve had it for years, and we’ve developed a number of drivers," said Budkowski.

"Now we have drivers successful in the highest category just before Formula 1, it shows that our academy has been good at developing good drivers.

"Unfortunately, if I may use the word, they are coming to maturity at the same time and we have the problem generated by having too many good drivers performing well.

"The success of the academy is also judged by its output, if your academy never gets a driver in Formula 1 then you’ve wasted your time and your money in supporting these drivers, so in one way running a successful academy is getting them to Formula 1.

"On the other hand we’re doing this for ourselves to develop the next drivers we’re going to use at Alpine but at the moment we don’t have a seat free.

"We don’t want to stand in the way of the drivers we’ve helped develop for many years.

"Equally we don’t want to lose them completely from our pool of drivers, so that’s the compromise you have to reach. But it just shows it’s a successful academy we’re running."

  • Read also: Piastri facing uncertain future despite 'extraordinary CV' - Webber

While Zhou might have the good fortune of joining the elite next season, Piastri is facing a potential situation where he will have brilliantly fulfilled all expectations, and then some, only to see his career stall at a crucial level.

"I think I’ve done a good job of putting myself in a pretty prime position for an F1 seat," said the 20-year-old Aussie. "I’ve won two championships in a row and I’m leading a third.

"We are still only halfway through, so a lot can still change, but all the moves in F1 are happening now or have already happened.

"It’s a bit disappointing the way it’s kind of played out because I really don’t know what more I could have done.

"And [winning the feature race at Monza] was quite nice to make a statement – I’m still here.

"It’s been a pretty tough few weeks watching everything unfold and not really being involved at all given the position I’m in. But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles."

Managed by former F1 driver Mark Webber, Piastri is highly rated by his countryman who underscored how winning the F2 title this year would likely send his protégé to the sidelines for 2022, while finishing second would keep him active next season.

"It probably is just a case of bad timing, but I still want to try and win this championship," said Piastri.

"I’ve had a few suggestions of purposely not winning it to do another year but that’s just silly, and I want to win the championship.

"And if I do win the championship, I’d be pretty annoyed if something at some point in the future didn’t arise from that."

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Red Bull Powertrains unit 'gathering pace' every week - Horner

Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner says construction of the team's new engine factory on its Milton Keynes campus... The post Red Bull Powertrains unit 'gathering pace' every week - Horner appeared first on F1i.com.

Red Bull Powertrains unit 'gathering pace' every week - Horner

Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner says construction of the team's new engine factory on its Milton Keynes campus is running on target and gathering pace.

Red Bull will partially take over Honda's power unit program from next season before a full appropriation in 2023 that will run until the end of 2025 or 2026.

The effort represents a significant investment from the energy drink company and one that will allow for an optimal integration of its chassis and PU departments, with that benefit hopefully transferring to Red Bull's on-track performance.

"The Red Bull Powertrains project is gathering pace with every week," said Horner. "The construction is on target and it’s great to see the building really taking shape.

"All the roofing is going on and the dyno will start arriving next month. It’s really starting to come together and the effort going into it is impressive.

"We’re attracting some great talent and we also have a strong youth policy to bring in some graduates and students into the programme."

©RedBull

Indeed, since launching its in-house engine program, Red Bull's hiring spree has been running at full speed, with many personnel recruited directly from Mercedes' HPP engine department in Brixworth, including Ben Hodgkinson, HPP's highly rated head of mechanical engineering and its engineering chief Owen Jones.

Regarding the recent defections suffered by Mercedes HPP, Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko believes the exodus would not have happened under the governance of Mercedes' former non-executive chairman, the late Niki Lauda.

"We're a cool team where passion comes first," Marko told Austrian outlet OE24. "It wouldn't have happened to Mercedes under Niki Lauda. He was closer to his engine people."

  • Read also: Red Bull could trigger Albon recall option in 2023

Overall, Red Bull Powertrains' workforce is expected to reach between 300 and 500 people, with a strong contingent of young engineers.

"We want to give youth a chance and are looking for candidates who think differently and come from all spectrums and backgrounds," added Horner.

"We’ll have a number of scholarships and apprenticeships. It really is a great opportunity and seeing the appeal of this project with the calibre of individuals we’re attracting, is so exciting."

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