F1 News: Zhou Guanyu under pressure to keep Alfa Romeo seat

Zhou Guanyu explained before the summer break that securing a contract extension was the aim in August. Unfortunately for the Chinese driver, his F1 future is unconfirmed and – per several news reports – under a reasonable amount of threat.

The 24-year-old has performed at a reasonable level this year, especially given the limited opportunities provided by the Alfa Romeo C43 machine.

Against an experienced and decorated Valtteri Bottas, Zhou has never looked out of his depth – often matching or even surpassing his teammate’s speed throughout a race weekend.

However, in the ever-volatile F1 market, there have been suggestions that Alfa Romeo could consider alternatives.

Theo Pourchaire is chief among these, currently leading the Formula 2 Championship as a Sauber junior. Aston reserve Felipe Drugovich has also been linked to a seat by Italian and French sources.

Speaking with the media, Zhou Guanyu was candid about his position within the team:

“I think the most important part is that I’m trying to raise a little bit my game in terms of improving performance.

“The weakness last year wasn’t maybe as good as one-lap qualifying pace, and also the start was very inconsistent for our team.

“This year we’ve definitely been, let’s say, a lot more to the point, compared to where we were last year – but we’re definitely missing a little bit of performance in general.

“Expected a lot more, of course. So, it’s not been an easy season, but let’s say it’s clear for the goal in the second half of the season.

“[We] want to achieve that P7 in the Constructors’ Championship, and it’s very close between us, AlphaTauri and also Williams and Haas.

“I still think we can do that. Upgrades are coming for the next few races, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Although the degree of Alfa Romeo’s interest in other drivers is unclear, the absence of a 2024 contract suggests they continue to evaluate their options.

Audi’s involvement in driver selection, both in the short and medium term, is an unknown – adding another spanner to the works. Still, with nine rounds left, Zhou has the opportunity to quieten any whispers in F1 news about his future being in jeopardy.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang