Zhou Guanyu locked in two-driver battle to keep hold of Alfa Romeo seat – report

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.

Speculation about Zhou Guanyu’s Formula 1 future continues with Ted Kravitz reporting he is up against Theo Pourchaire for the second Sauber race seat.

Scoring just four points this season in what, it must be said, is an under-performing Alfa Romeo C43, rumours have been doing the rounds claiming the Chinese driver is facing the end of his Formula 1 career.

Not only is he lacking results, Canal+ also reports he could lose his seat because of a “lack of budget”.

Is Zhou Guanyu’s race seat safe for next season?

Zhou was asked about that rumour and downplayed it to the media, including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher, saying: “Of course, I have personal sponsors and I don’t feel like I lack any foundations on that.

“Rumours are made up, but all the details we need to talk about with the team because it is not like it is the first contract, the second one is more [focused] on details because it is your second contract in F1.

“Nothing to be majorly worried about because I feel like what I show on track deserves to be in this paddock.”

Kravitz, though, says the 24-year-old should be worried as he is in a fight with Pourchaire to partner Valtteri Bottas next season.

“Is Zhou Guanyu going to hang onto his drive next year?” the pit lane reporter said in his post-Monza Ted’s Notebook segment. “I don’t know.

“Theo Pourchaire is being highly rated if he wins or finishes high up in the F2 championship to take the second drive, given that he is an Alfa Romeo-Sauber junior.

“So it’s Zhou versus Pourchaire for this team in 2024. That’s what’s going on in the driver market at Alfa Romeo.”

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Theo Pourchaire ‘talking’ with Sauber about his future

As for Pourchaire, he admits he doesn’t yet know what 2024 holds for him or even if he’ll still be part of the Sauber family.

If he wins the F2 title that’s his Formula 2 career over as the champion is not permitted to remain in the series.

Pourchaire took a huge leap toward the Formula 2 title at Monza where he scored points for pole position, his P4 in the sprint race and his podium finish in the latter. He’s 25 points ahead of Frederik Vesti with 39 points up for grabs at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s true, it’s an honest answer, I don’t know,” he told GPBlog when asked what 2024 holds in store for him.

“I just want to say a big thanks to the Sauber Academy for helping me for four years from F3. This season, I’m racing thanks to them. So it’s great to be the reserve driver as well. It’s a huge responsibility.

“And for the future, I am talking with them often, but we will see.”

With Formula 2 now on an almost three-month break before the finale in Abu Dhabi, Pourchaire is expected to cover Alfa Romeo’s two junior FP1 sessions while also spending more time in the team’s simulator.

“I will go back to my reserve driver duties with Alfa Romeo a lot more,” he confirmed. “I’ll be dedicated to that, which is good. A lot of simulator work. Probably some practicing in the Formula 1 car. But I cannot say much.”

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