Even though Zhou Guanyu is the first-ever Chinese F1 racer on full-time duty, there are rumours suggesting that his major financial backing isn’t robust enough to influence Alfa Romeo‘s new contract negotiations.
In the run-up to the summer break, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the managing director of Alfa Romeo F1, suggested that the team is interested in retaining its current duo – Zhou and Valtteri Bottas. Bottas shift to Alfa Romeo from Mercedes in 2022, entering a two-year deal, which includes an option to extend it for the year 2024.
However, this seat is highly sought after. FIA F2 champion Felipe Drugovich, backed solidly by sponsors and an Aston Martin reserve, and Alfa Romeo‘s prodigy, Theo Pourchaire, are among potential contenders.
Zhou, meanwhile, remains optimistic about securing another deal preferably stretching over several seasons. He explained his position: “It’s a little bit [more] delayed than I expected. But I think it’s just due to me, together with Alfa Romeo, trying to figure out these final details.‘Why don’t you sign?’ I still have no answer to that. But we’re definitely talking more into that and getting more close to being done. I’m happy to be together, spending more and more years together with this team. The future is bright for where the team is heading.”
Quashing rumours regarding his financial inadequacy, Zhou stated: “I have personal sponsors and I don’t know the rumours, but I don’t feel I’m lacking any foundations on that side.” His emphasis is on clinching a deal with the current team, focusing on its takeover by Audi rather than eyeing other openings: “At the minute [Alfa] is the priority. There’s not a lot of seats that’s available. I’m very keen on staying where I am.”
On the sidelines, there are possible vacancies elsewhere, with Williams holding off on the announcement regarding American rookie Logan Sargeant‘s future and the seat alongside Alex Albon. Possibilities also linger at AlphaTauri, as the team hasn’t officially confirmed its complete lineup for 2024 – potentially placing one of Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson, or Daniel Ricciardo on the market. The confirmed 2024 F1 grid includes drivers from Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren, Alpine, Williams, Haas, Alfa Romeo, and AlphaTauri.