F1 silly season: Shock moves predicted for Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu

Jamie Woodhouse
Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu graphic.

Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu side-by-side.

Le Mans class winner Richard Bradley believes Aston Martin’s future Honda links will see Yuki Tsunoda replace Lance Stroll as early as F1 2024, while he also reckons Zhou Guanyu is on Williams’ radar.

Tsunoda and Zhou join Lewis Hamilton, Logan Sargeant and Daniel Ricciardo as the drivers who are out of contract come the end of F1 2023, meaning further twists and turns in the current ‘silly season’ are likely as next year’s F1 grid comes together.

Red Bull’s junior team will undergo a major makeover for F1 2024 as they lose the AlphaTauri name as part of that, but will Tsunoda remain for a fourth season with the Faenza squad?

Yuki Tsunoda tipped to join Aston Martin

In the opinion of 2015 Le Mans LMP2 class winner Richard Bradley, Tsunoda is on course to switch to Aston Martin, the team who from 2026 will be powered by Honda engines, the Japanese brand currently supplying Red Bull and AlphaTauri, which helped to open the door for their driver Tsunoda.

Bradley though does not believe we will need to wait until 2026 for Tsunoda to join Aston Martin, he thinks that will come about as soon as next season, 2025 at the latest, as he takes the place of team owner Lawrence’s son Lance Stroll, who has struggled to contend with the performance level of two-time World Champion team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Alonso has scored seven podium finishes so far in F1 2023 while Stroll remains on zero, with Alonso boasting 168 points to Stroll’s 47.

“I think he will be a very strong contender for the Aston Martin seat,” Bradley told On Track GP when predicting Tsunoda’s F1 2024 home.

Asked to clarify if that would be to replace Stroll, Bradley replied: “Yes, because remember, Honda are going to be supplying Aston Martin’s engines and he’s obviously an HRC [Honda Racing Corporation] driver and so it just makes logical sense.

“And we’ve already heard the rumours that there are discussions ongoing.

“I think that will happen maybe if it’s not next year, 100 per cent the year after.”

Tsunoda though may choose to stick around at AlphaTauri, considering the possibility of a 2025 Red Bull seat coming available if the team do not extend the contract of Sergio Perez.

And Bradley reckons Tsunoda is making a “good case for himself” to earn that call-up if he went against his expectations and stayed.

“I mean, the guy is performing, the guy is doing really well,” said Bradley.

“Okay, he didn’t have the best end result, but he was doing a really good job in Zandvoort. He’s been doing very well lately, in Spa he was doing very well in what is the worst car on the grid.

“He’s making a good case for himself.”

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Zhou Guanyu heading to Williams?

Bradley believes that Sargeant is now driving towards the end of his time at Williams, the American racer still without a point in his rookie F1 campaign, all while experienced team-mate Alex Albon has excelled, most recently putting the FW45 P4 on the grid at Zandvoort, before scoring a P8 finish.

But, while Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher and their junior racer Frederik Vesti have been linked to Sargeant’s seat, Bradley predicts Williams will look for a financial boost by bringing Chinese racer Zhou into the fold.

Zhou is yet to extend his Alfa Romeo contract beyond F1 2023, with Bradley suggesting that the ailing Chinese economy is playing a part in this.

“I can see Zhou going to Williams, I can see him taking Logan’s seat,” Bradley claimed.

“Because we know that Williams, obviously we’ve got the new management, but historically they’ve always been a team that’s needed a bit of external budget.

“Zhou’s situation with Alfa, obviously we’ve got a few rumours going around now about that, but Alfa are going towards Audi, the Chinese economy is struggling quite a bit at the minute, I think that’s been well documented in normal news, and I expect that’s what is hurting Zhou’s negotiations at the minute, there’s a lot of uncertainty there.

“But I expect that Williams as a team, if they get rid of Logan, then Zhou is a logical option.”

As for Hamilton, Bradley is “100 per cent” sure his future remains with Mercedes, while he backs Ricciardo to remain at Red Bull’s rebranded junior team for F1 2024, believing that with Hugo Boss apparently set to partner with the team, Ricciardo would represent a strong marketing opportunity for the brand.

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