Zhou Guanyu has refuted speculation a lack of sponsorship funds could cost him his Alfa Romeo race seat, the driver adamant there’s no issue there.
Zhou has found himself in the thick of Formula 1’s silly season rumours with the Chinese driver said to be facing an abrupt departure from the Formula 1 grid.
Having only signed a one-year extension with Alfa Romeo, Canal+ is reporting that a “lack of funds” could see him replaced at the end of this season as the team needs to cover the loss of Alfa Romeo’s title sponsorship in 2024.
Could Zhou Guanyu lose his Alfa Romeo race seat?
This has seen several candidates emerge in recent weeks with Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire said to be in the running while Mick Schumacher has been billed as the “only real option” for Sauber.
Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich, who comes with financial backing, is also looking for a place on the grid.
Zhou has downplayed this, saying he doesn’t know where the rumours are coming from.
“I have personal sponsors and I don’t know the rumours, but I don’t feel I’m lacking any foundations on that side,” he said.
“It’s not like the first contract you have in Formula 1 – everything’s up to the team. The second one is a bit more into details.
“Nothing to be worried about majorly. I don’t feel like what I show on track doesn’t deserve to continue being in this paddock.”
He added that it is fact the opposite as he is closing in on a new deal for the 2024 championship.
“It’s a little bit [more] delayed than I expected,” he added. “But I think it’s just due to me, together with Alfa Romeo, trying to figure out these final details.
“In terms of, let’s say, ‘Why don’t you sign?’ I still have no answer to that. But we’re definitely talking more into that and getting more close to being done.
“I’m happy to be together, spending more and more years together with this team. The future is bright for where the team is heading.”
The good news for Zhou is that Alfa Romeo team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi recently spoke about wanting “stability” for the team, including in their driver line-up.
He told Speedcafe: “For me, stability is a key, and so we are targeting to continue. Of course, with Valtteri and Zhou, there is a constant dialogue but the drivers are not a subject on our table now.”