Zhou Guanyu an outside contender for Alpine seat

Jaden Diaz

With Esteban Ocon officially parting ways with Alpine at the end of the season, many drivers are vying for the available seat at the French outift. Jack Doohan, currently the team’s reserve driver, is one of the front-runners for 2025. However, other names outside of the Alpine academy are also in the race. Zhou Guanyu is among them.

Zhou is still searching for a contract to secure his future in Formula 1. For some time now, it has become apparent that Sauber are unlikely to re-sign the 24-year-old. Much like teammate Valtteri Bottas, exploring the market is necessary for Zhou.

However, finding a seat will likely be trickier for Zhou than the Finn. Sauber is the only team yet to score points in 2024. Several factors have contributed to this failure, but the bottom line is that the C44 is a very average machine in a highly competitive field.

This is never a good scenario for a driver, but this is especially frustrating for someone trying to produce notable results and earn a new contract.

Press Conference
Zhou Guanyu, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber; 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Formula One World Championship

Potential opening for Zhou Guanyu at Alpine

Luckily for Zhou, there are indications that he is in contention for a 2025 seat. Indeed, he is understood to be on the shortlist at Alpine.

Alpine are licking their wounds after losing several big-name drivers (Alonso, Piastri and Ocon) in recent years. In the past, their status as a manufacturer team helped them to attract top-quality talent. This is no longer the case, with the French outfit becoming an increasingly undesirable option.

Of course, for drivers without an alternative on the grid, Alpine still represents a valuable opportunity.  Zhou still faces multiple competitors for a contract with the Enstone-based team, including the likes of Jack Doohan. However, the names being linked with a move to Enstone are not of the same magnitude as in the past.

This gives the 24-year-old a fighting chance.

The man from Shanghai will need to deliver strong performances to boost his stock. As it stands, though he is a contender for the seat, Alpine are still considering their options. There is no rush to make a decision, meaning that Zhou can make a case for himself across 2024.

When discussing Zhou’s future, his commercial value cannot be overlooked. Considering that Renault’s rebranding to Alpine was essentially a marketing exercise, the 24-year-old’s ability to expand the brand into the Chinese markets is a relevant factor.

Only recently, the Renault Group announced the creation of “HORSE Powertrain Limited” in collaboration with Chinese-owned Geely.


Whilst it would be a stretch to suggest this announcement foreshadows Alpine’s driver lineup, it is still a noteworthy development. Reports that Alpine are in talks with Flavio Briatore indicate the efforts at Enstone to start from scratch and take a new direction.

Amidst this possible transition, Zhou can make himself a credible option for the French squad if he delivers strong results this year.

The Sauber driver summarised the situation very succinctly two weeks ago in Monaco:

“We are looking for different options to see what’s the best for my future. I think that’s the priority. 

“At the same time, you have to keep performing on track. If you earn the seat, giving some great results, that’s going to only help.”