New season, new line up for Alfa Romeo who has recently announced that Guanyu Zhou will be teaming up with Valtteri Bottas in 2022. The 22-year-old is currently driving for UNI-Virtuosi in Formula 2 and had the chance to drive Fernando Alonso’s Alpine during the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this year. His ties with Alpine date back to 2019, when he joined the Renault Sport Academy.
"It's fantastic to see him getting to Formula One, I've worked with him obviously quite a bit this year, shared an FP1 with him in Austria as well, so you know that he was developing very fast into the F1 car," Esteban Ocon told reporters in Losail.
"I don't think it will take him long to get up to speed but I definitely wish him the best."
Zhou’s signing is set to have an impact on Alfa Romeo’s balances, as the driver is bringing along significant sponsorships. In Formula 2, however, there is another young talent who saw his chances of joining F1 crumble, Oscar Piastri. Piastri is also part of the Renault Sport Academy and is currently leading the F2 championship, 36 points clear of Zhou.
"I think it's just a matter of time before Oscar joins us on the grid," said Ocon.
"He's more than talented. He's won pretty much all the titles up until now.”
The Australian won Formula 3 last season and the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019 and at the end of the season he will be taking Daniil Kvyat’s place as Alpine’s reserve driver. Not the best option, but Ocon believes it will be a good opportunity for him to get a first glance of F1.
"Of course waiting is never a fantastic thing for us drivers, but the best is for him to watch how everything is going and that's what I did, just trying to get as much information as I could,” he explained.
"Once you are in the seat you know how everything works from the inside. That's what I've done and I'm sure he will probably do the same."