Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu says both team and driver are happy with their partnership, though whether it will continue is not yet decided.
Zhou is contesting his rookie campaign with Alfa Romeo, Formula 1’s first full-time Chinese driver, though he faces a battle to extend his time on the grid into 2023.
It is already confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will continue to form one half of Alfa Romeo’s line-up for 2023 and 2024, but there has been no announcement yet on his team-mate.
Alongside Zhou, the other main contender for the seat is Sauber junior Théo Pourchaire, who has confirmed that his current Formula 2 campaign will be his last.
Zhou was asked if he has any update on his future during a press conference ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, and though he could not give any news, he did state that he is happy with the team, believing that the feeling is mutual.
“Yeah, we’re talking about it and there’s no hide, myself and the team are very happy for each other, the job we’ve done so far,” said Zhou.
“It wasn’t an easy season, let’s say for the rookie campaign. But yeah, from my side I’m quite happy working with everyone in the team and yeah, we’re talking about it.
“Nothing has been confirmed, but hopefully, I get more information soon. And so now I’m just focused on delivering a great race and hopefully get the team back into points.”
Zhou has scored only five points so far this season, compared to 46 for Bottas, though neither driver has featured in the top 10 since the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
Offering an explanation, Zhou felt that grid penalties, like the ones for both drivers in Spa, have not helped Alfa Romeo’s cause, while in Zandvoort Zhou stressed that the margins in the midfield for qualifying were very fine.
Zhou was eliminated in Q2 having just made the cut, while Bottas narrowly missed out.
Zhou though said he was encouraged by Alfa Romeo’s performance at Spa, so is hopeful that the team can enjoy a strong showing at Monza, another low downforce track.
Asked what the issues have been that are stopping Alfa Romeo scoring points, Zhou replied: “There’s several issues, after the summer break it has been extremely tough for the team and in Spa we had both cars taking engine penalties, so obviously you ruin a little bit the chance for the race.
“But then yeah, last weekend it was let’s say probably the biggest struggle race of the season in terms of couldn’t get the tyres to be working in the range, and it was very tight in Zandvoort, two cars barely made it into Q2.
“But overall, throughout the weekend we were finding more and more pace. Hopefully, you know, we weren’t so bad in Spa in a low downforce track. So Monza is again a very important race for us, like a home race for the team, hopefully better speed.”
Alfa Romeo started out the season as a leading midfield outfit, to the point where Bottas was setting his sights on scoring a podium.
The Hinwil outfit though has slipped down the order, Zhou believing this may well be due to other teams shaving weight off their cars, Alfa Romeo having enjoyed an advantage in that department during the earlier rounds.
That being said, Zhou does not believe that the prospect of points in these final seven races is off the table.
“I mean, points are, of course still there,” said Zhou. “And as we saw, especially in tracks like here, low downforce, a lot of overtaking opportunities, hopefully, so provide quite a lot of chances.
“It’s quite true to say that we’re not having the advantage we had earlier in the season, where I think we was very good on the weight, saving a lot of that, and now people are catching up and we’re being maybe not as fast as others in terms of production.
“But we’re still there, like last weekend we saw one tenth it could be up three positions or more, so it’s all about in that midfield battle, putting everything together in the car.”