Marko: Zhou in second Alfa Romeo seat, ‘ready’ to step up

Michelle Foster
Guanyu Zhou in his UNI-Virtuosi Racing, Formula 2 Championship . Italy September 2021

Guanyu Zhou sits in his UNI-Virtuosi Racing Formula 2 car, helmet on, visor open, Halo clear above his head . Italy September 2021

Guanyu Zhou is the driver Alfa Romeo will name when they announce their complete 2022 line-up, according to Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.

Formula 2 driver Zhou, currently second in the Drivers’ Championship behind Oscar Piastri, has long been linked to the second Alfa Romeo race seat alongside Valtteri Bottas.

The Chinese driver has not only shown he knows how to win races but he also brings with him sponsorship, said to be to the tune of $25 million – a number Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur has disputed.

Zhou’s opportunity to step up into Formula 1 was almost lost last month when Andretti Autosport entered talks with Sauber about buying the Formula 1 team, with Michael Andretti wanting to put Colton Herta in the car.

But with those talks breaking down, it seems Zhou is again on course for a promotion.

A photograph has been doing the rounds on social media, showing an advertisement on an Alfa Romeo dealership in Shanghai that claims Zhou “will join” the Alfa Romeo team.

“China’s first F1 driver,” it adds.

The picture has not been verified, although it seems Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko has the inside scoop.

He told Swiss publication Blick: “With the great equipment, the modern wind tunnel and now a good budget, the team [Alfa Romeo] should actually move forward in 2022!

“With Bottas you have a very experienced man and Zhou has now shown for three years in Formula 2 he is ready for higher tasks.”

Fans will not have to wait much longer for the 2022 grid to be completed with Vasseur stating they will make their announcement on the Tuesday after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“Yes, we have already made a decision on the other driver,” Vasseur told Canal+.

“We are at the last formalities, but the decision will be communicated on Tuesday after the Brazilian Grand Prix.”

Vasseur has kept his cards close when it comes to the name of his second driver but did recently hint all was not lost for Antonio Giovinazzi.

“It’s already the question to know if we have interest to change [both drivers] with the new regulations or if, with the new regulations, stability is important,” he said.

“We know the preparation will be very short with the two-times-three days [test] and it could be less with the reliability or other issues.

“It means we have to be ready from the first stage, also because we know perfectly in this kind of championship it is very often in the first event you can score big points for a midfield team.”