Renault Sport Academy Director Mia Sharizman was damning with faint praise when talking about the team’s junior drivers looking back on 2020.
Renault head into 2021 with a new name as they rebrand to Alpine, as well as bringing back their 2005 & 2006 World Champion Fernando Alonso to partner Esteban Ocon.
The stated goal of finding a junior driver to nurture and bring up to Formula 1 for 2021 hasn’t been achieved, with the Renault Sport Academy’s leading junior drivers yet to find a place on the grid.
Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard racing in Formula 2 in 2020, with the Chinese driver finishing P6 and the Dane in P7.
“We hoped for more from Zhou and Christian in FIA Formula 2 and we are somewhat disappointed with the outcome of finishing sixth and seventh in the Championship despite some strong performances resulting in wins and podiums.” said Renault Sport Academy head Mia Sharizman.
Reflecting on the year as a whole, Sharizman also spoke about the team’s pride as new Academy signing Oscar Piastri won the Formula 3 title, but said they expected more from Hadrien David and Caio Collet. Collet raced in Formula Renault Eurocup, finishing P2, with David finishing P10 in the same championship.
“Oscar winning the FIA Formula 3 was an unbelievable achievement and we are very proud of that.” explained Sharizman. “Nevertheless, Caio and Hadrien fell short of their target of winning their respective titles, but as the season evolved, we can see Caio’s potential and development, which is in line with our projection. We know all the drivers can do better and they are aware that they will have to be better next year to progress further within the Academy. I know they will.”
Zhou, Lundgaard & Piastri all had the chance to drive the 2018 F1 car in Bahrain last month, with Zhou also joining Fernando Alonso at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi to drive the 2020 car. Sharizman says that this experience has been beneficial for all three.
“I was happy to see that we were able to execute the F1 Test Programme for our Academy Drivers perfectly, considering there were so many limitations and restrictions in staging them due to the pandemic.” said Sharizman. “Zhou and Christian have benefitted this year immensely in their on-going F1 preparation. This year they have been joined by Oscar who had his first experience with F1 machinery. It was a reward for winning the FIA F3 Championship and it was richly deserved. He performed well and I am confident there will be more opportunities for Oscar in the future.