The Alpine F1 team has confirmed its plans for the 2021 season for leading junior drivers Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard.
The pair were test drivers for the Renault F1 squad in 2020 as well as being part of the Renault Sport Academy. They will continue their development with the newly named Alpine Academy following the rebranding of the factory team over the winter off-season.
Zhou finished last year's Formula 2 championship in sixth place in the final driver standings, with Lundgaard one position further back. The title was won by Ferrari Driver Academy member Mick Schumacher, who graduates to F1 with Haas this season.
Zhou will stay with the UNI-Virtuosi squad for his third season in F2, the 21-year-old Chinese driver having claimed his maiden victory in the series last year at Sochi.
Lundgaard will remain at ART for his second full F2 campaign after a rookie season in which he secured two sprint race victories and a total of six podiums, plus a maiden pole at Mugello.
Zhou and Lundgaard will be joined at the newly named Alpine Academy by reigning FIA Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri, who will graduate to F2 with series team champions Prema alongside Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman.
And there's a surprise return to the line-up for Formula Renault Eurocup champion Victor Martins, who picked up seven wins en route to the title. He replaces Max Fewtrell who has been dropped from the programme after a disappointing part-time F3 campaign at ART.
The line-up is completed by Formula Renault Eurocup runner-up Ciao Collet, who will join Martins competing in F3 after the Brazilian won five times on the way to finishing the season 44 points behind the 19-year-old Frenchman.
"The Academy enters an important phase in its growth since we started the programme in 2016," commented Alpine Academy Director Mia Sharizman.
"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," he said. "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," he continued.
"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.
"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.”