Alfa eyeing Raikkonen/Schumacher line-up for 2021

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari receives the Pirelli Pole Position award from Mick Schumacher (GER) Formula Three Driver.
© XPB 

Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur has hinted at a possible 2021 driver line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Mick Schumacher.

Raikkonen, 40, is the most experienced driver on the current grid, having just completed his 322nd race at Sochi which equals the all-time record for Grand Prix participations of Rubens Barrichello.

But the Finn and his current team mate Antonio Giovinvazzi are currently lagging in 16th place in the drivers standings with just two points apiece after a difficult season for the Italian squad.

It was thought that the lacklustre campaign might persuade Raikkonen to retire at the end of 2020, and that Alfa was looking at free agents such as Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg to take his place.

However Lawrence Barretto from the official website has suggested otherwise, reporting: "My sources say he is now leaning towards staying put for another year, something Alfa Romeo are understood to want.

“It’s as close to certain as you can get that the Finn, who will be 42 next year, will be an Alfa Romeo driver next season," he writes.

Vasseur admits that the team's current form makes it harder to persuade the Finn to remain with the team in 2021 - but he's convinced it's possible.

“We have to discuss together about the situation,” he told Barretto. “It’s not the ideal situation today because we’re at the back, but I think the motivation is not about the result of one race.

"We will discuss soon together to know exactly what he wants to do and what I want to do. We will find a solution," he insisted.

© AlfaRomeo

If Vasseur is successful in his mission to keep Raikkonen, then the spotlight turns to who will take the second seat alongside the veteran racer.

While the team could hold on to Giovinazzi, the announcement that Mick Schumacher will take part in FP1 with the team at the Nurburgring next week has turbocharged gossip that the 21-year-old German currently leading the Formula 2 championship is now in pole position for the spot.

"My sources say Schumacher is the favourite to get the second seat," writes Barretto. "However Alfa Romeo and Ferrari are keeping their options open with two races still to go in the F2 championship."

Two of Schumacher's current F2 rivals, Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman, are also getting FP1 outings in upcoming races. Vasseur agreed that all three were in the running for the Alfa seat.

"Shwartzman as a rookie is doing a very strong job. Schumacher and Illot are performing. It’s much better feeling to be in this situation to have the choice between good ones than no choice.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Alfa Romeo Racing with Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Alfa Romeo Racing.

“And also Antonio is on the list," the team boss added. "We have to discuss with Antonio to see what we want to do, what also Ferrari wants to do on their side.

“We are not in a rush to make a decision," he said, pointing out that the three rookie candidates had to remain focussed on their F2 campaigns.

"It’s important for the young kids also to perhaps finish the season, even if the last two races are quite late this season," he said.

"It’s important to have the final picture and not start the discussion in the middle of the season.

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