Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski has outlined the compromises the team must take when forging the future of driver academy graduates.
Guanyu Zhou participated in FP1 with the team and impressed on his maiden outing whilst also challenging for the F2 title with fellow Alpine academy member Oscar Piastri.
Both drivers are said to be in the running for the last remaining seat on the F1 2022 grid with Alfa Romeo with Antonio Giovinazzi's future hanging in the balance.
Budkowski was asked if he could help either of the academy drivers into that seat but explained the difficulties in running a fully functioning and successful driver academy.
"When you look at this, we have an academy, we have had it for years and developed a number of drivers through it, so now we have drivers successful in the highest categories just before F1," said Budkowski.
"This shows the academy has been good at developing good drivers.
"Unfortunately, if I may use the word, they are all coming to maturity at the same time and we have the problems generated from having too many good drivers performing very well.
"The success of the academy is judged by its output. If your academy never gets a driver to F1, then you have wasted your time and your money in supporting these good drivers.
"In one way, running a successful academy is getting them to F1, the other hand is saying we are doing this for ourselves to develop the next drivers we are going to use at Alpine, but at the moment we don't have a seat free."
Whilst Mercedes and Ferrari have been able to position young drivers with other teams to which they supply power units, Alpine has no such option with only itself running Renault power.
"We don't want to stand in the way of the drivers we have helped to develop for many years," Budkowski added.
"Equally, we don't want to lose them completely from our pool of drivers.
"I guess that is the compromise you have to reach. It just shows it is a successful academy we run."
What do you think?
It's only when they get into F1 that their full abilities come to light, so of all these drivers only very few will hack it. The Albons, Schumachers, Giovannazis et al are there to make a show, not to win anything. Finding the winners is the hard part.
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