Reports have intensified over Zhou Guanyu’s future, especially since a contract with Alfa Romeo wasn’t summer break. Various F1 news outlets have suggested potential replacements available in the market – and the Chinese driver has responded.
There is no shortage of candidates, whether they be Theo Pourchaire or Felipe Drugovich, that Alfa Romeo could consider.
Audi’s imminent involvement at the Hinwil-based outfit adds another unknown element to the team’s direction for next season and beyond.
However, Zhou has proven a dependable quantity in an increasingly competitive 2023 midfield.
The former Alpine junior matches teammate Valtteri Bottas on a relatively consistent basis, something that few predicted when he first joined F1.
Speaking to the media in Monza, he was calm about the state of negotiations:
“They are just going through more details on the contract, and me, together with Alfa Romeo, are just trying to figure out the final details,” racingnews365 quotes him as saying.
“From my side, nothing has changed. I keep trying to do the best I can on track, and then the rest, I will leave to them.
“In terms of when I will sign, I have no answer. But we are talking more on that and getting closer…
“Nothing is sure until I sign the contract; nothing has been decided, but we are getting close to that point.”
Part of the predicament Zhou faces, at least from the outside, is the shift in Valtteri Bottas’ perception.
Many have concluded that the similarity in speed between the two Alfa drivers (at least since the 2022 summer break) can be attributed to the Finn regressing.
Although the Chinese F1 driver receives reasonable amounts of praise, the narrative of a decline from Valtteri Bottas is relatively commonplace.
Therefore, looking at contract negotiations, it is unclear how highly the Swiss team values their young driver.
Still, it would be unsurprising if the solid Zhou signs a new deal. Until then, extra scrutiny can be expected around the #24 car’s garage.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang