What Zhou Guanyu's New Deal with Alfa Romeo Means for Rest of F1 Grid

Photo credit: Joe Portlock - Formula 1 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Joe Portlock - Formula 1 - Getty Images
  • Zhou Guanyu had been expected to stay on with Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team into 2023 and the Switzerland-based team has now duly confirmed his retention.

  • Zhou has scored points in three races, peaking with eighth in Canada, and is 17th in the championship.

  • Zhou’s retention means 17 of the 20 seats for 2023 are now occupied.

Alfa Romeo will field an unchanged driver lineup in Formula 1 next season after retaining Zhou Guanyu to partner Valtteri Bottas.

Zhou became Formula 1’s first Chinese racer in 2022 as he graduated to a race seat alongside ex-Mercedes driver Bottas, who is on a multi-year deal.

Bottas fronted Alfa Romeo’s charge early in the season, capitalizing on the squad’s strong start, but Zhou has emerged as a credible contender as he builds experience, albeit in a phase of the season in which Alfa Romeo has regressed while also struggling for reliability.

Zhou has scored points in three races, peaking with eighth in Canada, and is 17th in the championship. He famously escaped unharmed following a dramatic accident on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, in July, in which his car flipped before vaulting the tire barriers.

Photo credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE - Getty Images
Photo credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE - Getty Images

Zhou had been expected to stay on with Alfa Romeo into 2023 and the Switzerland-based team has now confirmed his retention.

“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. There is still a lot to learn, a lot to develop but I am confident in our work.”

Alfa Romeo Team Principal Frederic Vasseur heaped praise on Zhou for his work ethic and for his pure speed.

“From day one with the team, at the Abu Dhabi test last year, he has impressed me with his approach to work and this is always a very positive trait,” said Vasseur. “We knew he was quick, but the way he adapted to Formula 1 in such a short time has been one of the best surprises of the season.

“He has had the humility to ask questions and learn, from the engineers as well as Valtteri, and the intelligence to apply all the information he got to improve race after race. He will have this experience to draw on next season, and I am sure he will make another step forward.”

Zhou will have an opportunity to compete on home soil next season, with Formula 1 including the Chinese Grand Prix on 2023’s calendar. However, it is understood the event, scheduled for April 16, remains subject to China relaxing its stringent entry regulations due to the lingering pandemic.

What It All Means

Zhou’s retention means 17 of the 20 seats for 2023 are now occupied.

The only unfilled seats are the second drives at Alpine, Haas and Williams, although AlphaTauri will ostensibly welcome a new face in the event it releases the contracted Pierre Gasly to Alpine.