Alpine targeting F2 title with latest Academy line-up

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Piastri, Lungaard, Zhou announced as part of Alpine junior squad for F2 title push

Victor Martins F3 test

Victor Martins returns to the Alpine Academy after winning Formula Renault Eurocup

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Alpine F1 has announced three reigning champions in its young driver line-up that makes up its junior academy in 2021.

Four drivers who were with the team in its Renault guise will continue and are joined by one returning name. Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lungaard are both back for ’21 with 2020 F3 champion Oscar Piastri joining them in Formula 2 this season.

This year will be Zhou’s third-consecutive season in F2 having achieved a best finish of sixth in the championship last season. Lungaard finished his first full season in the championship in seventh, with two wins to his name.

Zhou and Lungaard will continue with their ’20 teams, UNI-Virtuosi and ART Grand Prix respectively, while FIA Formula 3 champion Piastri remains at Prema, as he steps up to partner Ferrari junior driver, Robert Shwartzman.

Piastri scored six podium finishes in F3 last season including two race wins in the compacted season.

2018 French F4 champion Caio Collet is the final driver to be retained from the Renault Academy, as Formula Renault Eurocup rival Victor Martins returns to the line-up under its new guise, fresh from winning the 2020 championship ahead of Collet.

The 19-year-old had already been part of the Renault Academy back in 2018 but was let go after just one season in its ranks, where he finished fifth. He went on to finish second in 2019 and then won the championship at his third attempt. The pair will line-up alongside each other as team-mates at MP Motorsport in FIA F3 in 2021.

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Two drivers from the Renault Academy are no longer junior drivers for Alpine, with both Max Fewtrell and Hadrien David absent from the 2021 line-up.

Fewtrell was named as part of the Renault Sport Academy back in 2017. After winning the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018, difficult seasons in F3 followed and the Briton did not see out last year’s championship with Hitech.

David had won the 2019 French F4 title before joining Renault but scored just one podium finish in 2020 in Formula Renault Eurocup, with a third-place finish coming at Imola.

“The Academy enters an important phase in its growth since we started the programme in 2016,” Alpine Academy Director, Mia Sharizman said.

“On paper, this year we have a very experienced line-up with seventeen victories and two championships shared between our drivers from their respective seasons last year. We have three very competitive drivers in Formula 2 this year, all of whom have proven they can win.

“For Zhou it’s his third year in the series and it’s time for him to combine his experience and potential to win the title. We also have high expectations for Christian who can challenge for the title this year having shown us all glimpses of his potential last season.

“Whilst for Oscar, who is the rookie in Formula 2 for us, enters this year with great confidence after winning the Formula 3 crown last year. Our driver pairing in Formula 3 this year is also very strong, with last year’s Eurocup champion Victor and runner-up Caio racing for MP Motorsport.

“We are very happy to welcome back Victor, who was first with us in 2018. The drivers in the Academy know what is around the corner for them within our Formula 1 structure. The opportunity will come for those who perform the best.”