Alfa Romeo relies on consistency when it comes to driver personnel. The Formula 1 team has officially confirmed that Guanyu Zhou will also be in the cockpit during the season. The Chinese signed a new one-year contract.
Team manager Beat Zehnder calls Guanyu Zhou the best rookie the Sauber racing team has ever had. Team boss Frédéric Vasseur is also full of praise: "He convinced us from the first test last year in Abu Dhabi. We knew he was fast. But the fact that he adapted so quickly to Formula 1 was one of the nice surprises our season."
The fact that Zhou has only been able to collect six World Championship points despite good performances is mainly due to the unbelievable lack of technical luck. Again and again defects stopped the Chinese on the way to good results. The Alfa Romeo was regularly slowed down by problems with the drive unit and cooling.
Zhou's driving weaknesses are only noticeable in qualifying, where he sometimes lacks the necessary self-confidence to get the maximum performance out of the car. But here, too, progress can be seen, according to the team. The youngster's greatest strength is his consistency. Mistakes and accidents are extremely rare.
Zhou expects another step
The reward for the strong performance was the contract extension that Alfa Romeo officially announced on Tuesday (27.9.). However, the new deal only runs for a year for the 2023 season. Teammate Valtteri Bottas had already signed a longer contract the previous year. This means that the Sauber racing team is going into the new season unchanged in terms of personnel.
For team boss Vasseur, Zhou's human side also played a role: "Everyone on the team likes their personality and attitude. He's humble, asks questions and tries to learn from both Valtteri and the engineers. And he has the intelligence to use the new information to improve race after race. I'm sure he'll take another step next year."
Zhou himself politely thanked me for the new opportunity: "Even when I got into Formula 1, a dream came true for me. I will remember the first race forever. The team gave me extreme support right from the start. Of course I have more goals in this sport. We took the first step this year. There is still a lot to learn, but I have confidence in our work. I'm already looking forward to the next chapter together."
Pourchaire will have to wait
With Zhou's contract extension, it's also clear that Theo Pourchaire will have to wait at least another year before entering Formula 1. The super talent from France is currently second in the Formula 2 Championship, but ultimately had no chance in the junior series against Felipe Drugovich, who secured the title early in Monza.
Pourchaire recently made public claims for promotion to the premier class. A third year in Formula 2 does not make sense for him, explained the 19-year-old. Even if the teenager has not always been able to convince with consistent performances this year, Sauber will certainly not make the same mistake as Alpine and let his greatest talent go to the competition after his training. It will be exciting to see how the team management will solve this luxury problem.