Despite wanting stability with his driver line-up, Alfa Romeo managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi has warned Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu not to get too comfortable.
Bottas and Zhou teamed up last season, the experienced former Mercedes driver and the rookie helping Alfa Romeo to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
This season though, they are down in ninth with the team having only scored nine points in 12 races leading to suggestions Zhou, who is on a one-year contract, could be out.
Alfa Romeo: This doesn’t mean that our drivers are in a comfortable position
He was asked about that by PlanetF1.com, telling Thomas Maher: “We need to see and, obviously, my priority is to stay here and to go all the way to the Audi times.”
That has done little to quash the rumours with Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire knocking on the door as he races toward this year’s Formula 2 championship title.
But Pourchaire it seems will have to wait a year, at least if he wants a seat with Sauber, as Alunni Bravi is talking “stability” when it comes to his driver line-up as the team prepares to say goodbye to Alfa Romeo and await Audi’s arrival.
That though, doesn’t mean either Bottas or Zhou should consider themselves to be in a “comfortable position”.
“I always say that stability is a key factor for us,” Alunni Bravi told Speedcafe. “We are in a transformation process, and for me, to keep stability in certain areas is important.
“This doesn’t mean that our drivers are in a comfortable position. We know that everybody has to deliver the very best, but we are happy.
“We know that we need to bring a more performing car that will allow them to show better performance on the track, but for me, stability is a key, and so we are targeting to continue.
“Of course, with Valtteri and Zhou, there is a constant dialogue but the drivers are not a subject on our table now.”
Alunni Bravi wouldn’t be pressed as to the exact nature of his drivers’ contracts with Bottas on a multi-year deal while Zhou is reportedly on a one-year contract.
“I don’t want to speak about contracts,” he added. “I want to say that we want to continue and to add stability to the team, and of course, our drivers know this.
“At the same time, we need to deliver the best job on track as a team, and the drivers are part of the team.”
This season Bottas and Zhou have been evenly matched, or so the points table suggests with five points to four but it’s not the results Bottas is looking forward to.
Like Alunni Bravi, he believes Alfa Romeo are paying the price for last year’s slump which meant they started this year further behind than they would’ve wanted.
“Everyone in the team understands that the starting point of the season was not as strong as last year, and it’s been quite difficult to get up from there,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“Yes, we’ve been bringing upgrades, but so is everybody else. That’s how it goes.
“We’re not satisfied with the performance at the moment and it’s tough racing at the back when you want to be close to the front. But we don’t get frustrated yet, because we need to look ahead and now make a good plan for next year.
“We’ve been out-developed, yes. Also, the way the car was born, just the pure performance level was not where we wanted. Ever since then everyone’s improving, and some teams have made big steps – like McLaren recently.
“I mean by those performance targets, where we wanted to be in terms of what we find in old areas, whether it’s mechanical, whether it’s aero, whether it’s about tyres – the level where we started wasn’t where we wanted to be.”