Huge potential lifeline emerges for F1 driver facing no natural home on 2025 grid

Oliver Harden
Lando Norris leads a train of cars at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Lando Norris leads a train of cars at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Haas could emerge as a potential lifeline for Zhou Guanyu if the Chinese driver loses his Sauber seat at the end of the F1 2024 season.

Zhou, along with veteran team-mate Valtteri Bottas, is facing an uncertain future in F1 after Sauber announced the signing of Nico Hulkenberg from Haas last week.

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Hulkenberg will return to the Swiss-based team ahead of Audi’s highly anticipated F1 2026 entry, with Sauber also believed to have made a considerable offer to Carlos Sainz, who will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari next season.

Zhou’s emotional reaction at the end of the recent Chinese Grand Prix has increased speculation that his first home race may also prove to be his last, with the arrival of Hulkenberg announced days later.

While Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman is widely regarded as the favourite to replace Hulkenberg, Haas may have two seats available if they decide to drop Kevin Magnussen, whose performances have faded since his return to F1 in 2022. recommends

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Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast, presenter Christian Hewgill raised the possibility that Zhou could find a home at Haas in F1 2025 if Magnussen is dropped.

He said: “Kevin Magnussen [has made] a couple of mistakes and has being outpaced by Nico Hulkenberg more frequently than he’d like.

“I wonder if that’s the potential option.

“I wonder, if you’re Haas, whether you might fancy a gamble on Zhou rather than Magnussen alongside Ollie Bearman, bearing in mind there might be some commercial interest to do that as well given Zhou’s huge Chinese support.”

Hewgill’s fellow pundit, the Sky F1 commentator David Croft, responded: “Possibly, but I think Kevin Magnussen works well with that team, works very well with their sponsors and is a very marketable driver for the sponsors, including the title sponsor that Haas have.

“Does Zhou get you better than Kevin Magnussen? Potentially, but I think Magnussen is a known, safe pair of hands in that respect.

“We’ve seen glimpses of brilliance from Kevin Magnussen this season – not least in Jeddah with that amazing drive for the team itself – so I think he’s doing his bit for the team and it would be unlucky if Magnussen was to lose his seat at the end of the year.”

Despite the packed grandstands in Shanghai, Croft argued that Zhou’s popularity in his home nation should not be enough to secure him a place on the F1 2025 grid, admitting there is no obvious landing spot for the 24-year-old if he leaves Sauber.

He said: “I don’t think you keep a driver in a sport just because the popularity of that driver is such that it guarantees a full house at the grand prix. We’re not at WWE levels just yet.

“But I think Zhou Guanyu deserves a place on the grid – I think he’s a much better driver than that Sauber allows him to show more often than not.

“Those scenes, that emotion, just in the back of my mind I was just thinking: ‘I hope this isn’t the last, and it might well be the last, [we see of] Zhou Guanyu for some time because I don’t see where he lines up on the grid next year.

“I don’t see where there’s a place for him that he wouldn’t already have been and would have left Sauber at the end of last year.”

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