Guanyu Zhou, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Zhou “on the list” of driver options at Alfa Romeo

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Alpine-backed junior driver Guanyu Zhou is among those under consideration by Alfa Romeo for a Formula 1 seat in 2022, team principal Frederic Vasseur has confirmed.

Zhou would be the first Chinese driver to race in Formula 1 if he secured the drive. He is rumoured to have a $30 million sponsorship package to make the step up from Formula 2. At the halfway point in the season Zhou lies second behind fellow Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri.

“Zhou is doing a good job in F2,” said Vasseur. “For sure he’s on the list.

“It’s not only due to the fact that he’s Chinese, but that he’s a front runner in F2, he won some races and I think every single team in the F1 is looking after him.”

The second Alfa Romeo seat alongside Valtteri Bottas is one of the few remaining places on the grid for next season. Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries has been linked to the seat but Vasseur told RaceFans this week that hiring him “looks complicated for me because he is strongly linked to Mercedes”.

Vasseur intends to study the results of the next two Formula 2 rounds before making his decision.

“The F2 this season is a bit different compared to the past because they did only only four events to today, on difficult tracks because the first one was Bahrain, then they went to Monaco, Baku and the first one was Silverstone.

“I think Monza and Sochi are perhaps a bit more conventional and let’s have a look on the evolution of the young ones and then we will see what’s happened and where they are.”

Piastri has taken pole position for this weekend’s Formula 2 feature race. Zhou took third while Theo Pourchaire – who is connected to Alfa Romeo through Sauber, who run their F1 team – lines up seventh.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Zhou “on the list” of driver options at Alfa Romeo”

  1. I’m sure 30 million buys you equal talent to say…Mazepin?

    Reply moderated
  2. As an Australian i am interested on others opinions on Piastri. He won in F3 first year, now leading F2 in his first year and improving as the season continues. Zhous second year in F2. Who deserves a seat in F1? One of them will end up on the scrap heap! I think the sponsorship money will win out unfortunatly.

    1. @silfen @benji

      Piastri is in an odd situation, he’s doing incredibly well rocketing up the ranks but you also need to look at the current quality of the racing. F2’s current format is a shamble, being so far apart between races and there’s fewer races making it really hard to judge how good these young Jr drivers are developing and how good of a racer they are compared to drivers in pervious seasons. Piastri does not have that much racing under his belt so while he has considerable potential, I would say he’s still very much green with a lot more to learn before being in a F1 seat.
      He’s getting great support and guidance from Mark Webber which is a big plus and very helpful fit within F1’s ecosystem but timing maybe another issue. 2022 season is now out and with his Alpine contract, he’ll have some limitations on what seats could be available?

      And then the Zhou factor:

      Zhou is also a bit of an odd situation. Like Mazepin and Tsunoda, he’s not considered the best drivers in F2 but they all bring money.
      But I believe Zhou would bring in the most money out of all them, not just the quoted $30m but perhaps more that the two others combined and the whole paddock could greatly benefit financially from it due to his nationality and the overwhelming amount of new viewers that would be generated watching F1 to see Zhou drive. The Sponsors must be scrambling as well. There would be money everywhere in the deal.
      A considerable increase in higher viewership, cracking a lot more into the chinese market would mean a nice increase in more WCC prize money for everyone, spread across to the teams who earn it, Liberty must pushing for it.
      I may not agree with Zhou being in F1 but I certainly can understand if it happens.

      Unfortunately for Piastri, Zhou is his biggest obstacle to getting a seat. There is so much money behind Zhou that would benefit many in F1 that Piastri just cant match it, not even remotely even though it’s fairly obvious that Piastri is the better driver. I would rather see Piastri in F1.

      I would say 2024 is Piastri’s best chance in getting into F1 unless Alpine is able to place him elsewhere; There’s been and currently so many junior drivers entering the F1 market and only so any seats. In mean time Piastri will need to raise funds to keep racing and developing in F2. It’s takes $$$ millions for a driver to be able to drive in F2, I’m not sure who will pay for that?

  3. It is even Zhou’s third year in F2. But money talks, in his case 30 million dollars, I believe.

    I rank Piastri higher, as he has already won two championships and leads the F2 championship as a rookie. Unfortunately Alpine has no place in its team so if Piastri wins the Championship I wonder where he will race next season.

  4. Silfen its a Joke, state backed Guanyu Zhou has the best race seats paid for and he does not deliver so why does he deserve an F1 seat? He came out of nowhere and immediately was placed in top team Prema Powerteam to race in F4/F4. Now he is approaching 3 seasons racing for UNI-Virtuosi who are the F2 Equivalent of Red bull and he still hasn’t come close to winning the title yet.
    F1 does not need more pay drivers who only have a seat because they have obscenely rich backers, in the case of Guanyu Zhou: the ccp…

    “Alpine-backed” also makes me laugh because that makes it sound like hes an organic raw talent like Mercedes backed George Russell. Guanyu Zhou is state backed by the ccp who ‘pay’ Renault group to put him in their young driver program, that is all you need to know about his F1 hopes….so lets stop being naive here, he is 99% Guaranteed a seat at Alpine, logic suggests he takes Alonsos seat when he retires but before that he can race for any midfeild/backmarker team thanks to is virtually unlimited pay drive funding from the Chinese Communist Party Committee Secretary who want a chinese driver in F1 for ‘nation branding’ reasons.

  5. Leclerc & Russell made their F1 debut after winning GP3/F3 & F2 in their rookie seasons. Can Piastri do it? For sure. However it’s not in his hands. Renault doesn’t have a costumer like Ferrari (Sauber) or Mercedes (Williams). It’ll be painful not watching another aussie next season.

  6. Well Fred, if you are actually analysing F2 results like you say you are then your choice is obvious. It’s Piastri. But you’re simply looking for a reason to justify your decision to sign Zhou which we all know is purely based on money. I find it ironic only 1 week ago he said they did not want to sign a rookie because of limited test time available.. I wonder what changed that tune.. 30 million euros maybe?

    Reply moderated
  7. They need to keep Giovinazzi, he is developing well, reminds me a bit of Felipe Massa’s early development. Would be stupid to get rid of him now when he is qualifying top 10 in a bottom 3 car

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