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Formula 1

Zhou stays for second Alfa season, four 2023 F1 seats left

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Zhou Guanyu will remain with Alfa Romeo for the 2023 Formula 1 season following a formal announcement from the team that he will stay on.

Zhou made his F1 bow in 2022 having spent the previous three years in Formula 2, which ended with third place in the drivers’ championship and four wins in 2021.

F1’s first Chinese driver scored a point on his debut in Bahrain, and he has added five further points to his tally with an eighth place at the Canadian GP and 10th last time out at Monza.

Zhou’s six points pale in comparison to the 46 points his more experienced team-mate Valtteri Bottas has earned for Alfa Romeo.

But that deficit is partially skewed by the competitiveness of Alfa’s C43 dipping just as Zhou started to make progress during his rookie season.

That improvement coupled with Zhou’s financial backing has earned him a second year in F1 alongside 10-time race winner Bottas, who previously said he was “rooting” for Zhou to stay for 2023.

2022 Italian Grand Prix Sunday (3)

“I am happy and grateful to Alfa Romeo for the opportunity to be part of the team for another season,” said Zhou.

“Making it to Formula 1 was a dream come true and the feeling of competing for the first time in a race will live with me forever: the team has been incredibly supportive, welcoming me from day one and helping me adapt to the most complex series in motorsport.

“There is more that I want to achieve in this sport and with the team, and the hard work we have put together since the start of the year is just the first step towards where we want to be next season.

F1 Canadian Grand Prix 2022 Race

“There is still a lot to learn, a lot to develop but I am confident in our work: I am looking forward to the next chapter of our story together.”

The Sauber-run outfit is sixth in the constructors’ championship with an 18-point advantage over nearest rival Haas.

If it can hold that position, it will mark the team’s best result for 10 years – when it finished sixth in 2012 with four podiums for drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.

The team’s Alfa Romeo title partnership, which began in 2019, will cease by the end of 2023 ahead of Audi’s expected purchase of the F1 team for its new 2026 entry.

Zhou remaining with Alfa effectively leaves four vacancies on the 2023 grid.

Alpine is pursuing AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, who Red Bull will release if it can find a suitable replacement that could be Williams’s star Monza stand-in Nyck de Vries.

Should De Vries go to AlphaTauri, then Williams could promote its F2 race winner Logan Sargeant or take another F2 driver Jack Doohan on loan from Alpine, as was initially the plan for 2023 McLaren driver Oscar Piastri.

Nico Hulkenberg is believed to be Haas’s current choice to replace Mick Schumacher should the team elect not to retain him for a third season.

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