Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto is backing Antonio Giovinazzi to retain his seat at Alfa Romeo for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
Alfa Romeo have already confirmed Valtteri Bottas as the retiring Kimi Raikkonen's replacement next year, meaning there is just one place available at the Ferrari-powered team.
Giovinazzi's current contract expires at the end of the year and he is fighting to stay on the grid, with Formula 2 driver Guanyu Zhou heavily linked to the Italian's seat.
Binotto stated that Ferrari don't "really have much" say over Alfa Romeo's driver pairing and they are yet to discuss options outside of F1 with Giovinazzi.
"That's really a choice of the team," Binotto told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press. "The team is really independent on the choice of their driver, which is important for us as well.
"Antonio is our reserve driver, he's an Italian driver, he's part of the Ferrari family, he's a Ferrari driver.
"For us, it will be great to have him still driving next year. We believe that he is a good driver and he deserves to have a seat next year.
"But [we] cannot influence the team's decision. As power unit supplier, I think we are always evaluating the collaboration, the partnership with the team and, obviously, the driver choice is part of the evaluation."
In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Alfa Romeo Team Principal Frederic Vasseur revealed that a final decision will be taken in October.
"By the end of September, we'll have a good picture of the junior series," said Vasseur. "We are not in a rush to take a decision.
"If you have a look at the global picture, I want to be focused on what we are doing, to give them time to show what they can do – all of them. We will take a decision already, [in] the beginning of October."
It's time for the latest episode of our new Formula 1 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discussing the fallout from a dramatic Italian Grand Prix weekend.