New candidate emerges as the ‘only real option’ to replace Zhou Guanyu

Michelle Foster
Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu putting on his fireproofs before a session.

Zhou Guanyu is in a fight to retain his F1 race seat.

Mick Schumacher could be the “only real option” for Sauber should the team opt to replace Zhou Guanyu as the German has the sponsorship funds that the team are looking for, writes Joe Saward.

Zhou joined Sauber, currently racing as Alfa Romeo, last season with a solid debut campaign securing his seat for a second season.

But with reports claiming his sponsorship funds have run out, Canal+ speaking of a “lack of budget”, he could be out in the cold at the end of this season.

Could Zhou Guanyu make way for Mick Schumacher?

Losing Alfa Romeo as their title sponsor could mean a tighter budget for Sauber as they await Audi’s arrival in 2026.

As such it’s been claimed the team could be selling their second race seat alongside Valtteri Bottas with Schumacher emerging as the leading candidate.

According to respected F1 journalist Saward while Zhou is doing a “very decent job and is likely to get better next year”, his finances – or lack thereof – have left him “exposed” to lose his seat.

“The only real option as far as I can see is for the team to try to get some money from Germany for Mick Schumacher, as it is clear that he has no future at Mercedes beyond being a smiling face with a famous name,” he added.

“This probably explains why the usually reserved Mick gave an interview slagging off Steiner, after his two lacklustre seasons at Haas. That seemed a little graceless.”

Schumacher being German would also align with Audi although Saward reckons they’d probably want “someone better” when they officially take over the team in 2026.

“Using Schumacher might appeal to the team’s future owner Audi, but one presumes that when the firm does finally arrive in F1 in 2026, it wants to have someone better than Mick,” he continued.

“The Sauber drive is Schumacher’s only chance in F1, but he might be able to parlay his name into a driver elsewhere in the motorsport world.”

Saward ruled out Schumacher heading to Williams as he claims they “may not have announced it yet but the team has no plans to replace Logan Sargeant.” recommends

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Mick Schumacher has a ‘Plan B’ in light of his limited F1 options

With his options for a 2024 comeback sorely limited, Schumacher recently admitted to having a “Plan B” although he wouldn’t elaborate on what that was.

Speaking to Sky Deutschland, in the same interview in which he criticised Guenther Steiner’s leadership, he said: “I now feel very ready to attack again and to show what I can really do. A lot of people don’t even know what I can do.”

But he conceded his chances of returning to the grid next season: “There isn’t much movement at the moment. Many drivers are already set or have a contract that doesn’t expire until the end of next year.”

He added that “unfortunately” there is now a “Plan B” on the cards.

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