Zhou Guanyu will stay with Alfa Romeo for the 2024 F1 season
Zhou Guanyu has kept his seat at Alfa Romeo for another year, ending the speculation there was about his future with the team.
The 24-year-old – who became F1’s first Chinese driver when he made his debut last season – lines up alongside 10-time race winner Valtteri Bottas, who has also had his place on the grid confirmed for 2024.
Theo Pouchaire – who is highly likely to be crowned F2 champion in November - continues as the team’s reserve driver.
“Signing again with the team is always a great feeling, especially when we know how things are shaping up,” said Guanyu.
“I am proud to be part of Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake and grateful for their trust: I have been working extremely hard since day one and there is an incredible level of motivation to keep doing so every day forward.
“My relationship with Valtteri is really good, and we are working closely together and with the team to push everyone forward. I am also very excited about the opportunity to finally race with my team in China, in front of my home crowd. It will be a great moment and I’m proud to be able to share it with all those who have supported me.”
Ah yes: the Chinese Grand Prix is set to return to the F1 calendar next year, having fallen off the schedule during the Covid-hit season in 2020.
Bottas added: “I have a feeling we have an exciting journey ahead of us, so I am happy and grateful to be able to look forward to 2024 knowing how the team is shaping up. There is a good atmosphere within our squad, I get along with Zhou and we both push each other hard to improve.
"There is an impressive amount of work going on behind the scenes, in Hinwil and beyond, and now that the line-up is set for next year, we can focus fully on improving, starting this weekend in Singapore already. Every step forward we make is a step forward for this year and next, so we are motivated to give everything we have every time we’re trackside or at the factory.”
What isn’t clear is what the team will be called next year: Alfa Romeo’s sponsorship deal with the Switzerland-based Sauber outfit ends this year, and it’s not clear if the brand will disappear from F1 altogether or switch to another team, rumoured to be Haas.
Sauber has been bought by Audi and will become the VW Group brand’s official works team, but not until 2026 when the engine regulations are due for a shake-up. So we might well be calling it plain old Sauber again, at least temporarily.
Anyway, Guanyu’s confirmation leaves just three spots on the grid for 2024: the two AlphaTauri drives and the seat alongside Alex Albon at Williams, although the team has shown no sign of wanting to replace rookie Logan Sargeant despite his difficult debut season.
STORY Joe Holding