Sauber driver admits to ‘more intense’ dynamic as two now fight for one seat

Henry Valantine
Sauber drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

Following the 2025 signing of Nico Hulkenberg, if they want to stay at Sauber, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are now battling for one seat.

Zhou Guanyu admitted recently the dynamic between himself and Valtteri Bottas this year is “more intense”, as both their contracts are up for renewal.

That is now only likely to heighten, following the news that Nico Hulkenberg will join the team from 2025 – meaning at most, only one will remain with Sauber from 2025 onwards.

Zhou Guanyu: Sauber dynamic ‘more intense’ with both drivers up for renewal

The announcement of Hulkenberg rejoining the team for 2025 on a multi-year deal means that, if both current Sauber drivers’ priority is to stay where they are, they will both be battling for the same seat come next season.

Multiple candidates have also been touted for a drive there too, most notably Carlos Sainz, who Audi have been notably courting over a possible move after his exit from Ferrari was confirmed.

But for Zhou, he had initially been mentored by Bottas when they both joined the team together – and with experience under his belt now, the dynamic within the team has shifted somewhat.

“Of course, it’s always quite a competition in the team, you know, you want to be the best, that’s clear, for your own personal future career – and I think it’s the same for everyone,” Zhou explained on a recent episode of Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

“But what I do say for him is that he is still there, to share information to be able to make a step together, try to improve as a team, improve our package all the way around.

“And definitely, let’s say, the first year compared to now, it’s a bit more intense…always fighting a bit more on track. So we always do the right thing, and whoever can perform can come out on top.

“So there’s no, let’s say, too clever, or eager feeling between any of us, even in the racecraft – you know, if one guy is ahead, the other guy trying to use him to protect a little bit to help his race, if we’re only fighting for the final spot. recommends

F1 2025 driver line-up: Who is already confirmed for the 2025 grid?

The winners and losers of Nico Hulkenberg’s confirmed move to Audi

“We definitely are working still as a team and, of course, I think this year for all the drivers on the grid with the contracts expiring, everybody wants to show their own potential.

“Everybody wants to be the best of themselves for whatever reason for their career.

“So I think, yeah, we do want to beat each other, we want to be the best in our team, but we’re still a team player in the same way.”

As for how his own talks around his future are developing, Zhou admitted he would rather have his 2025 seat secured sooner rather than later if he can – and after a succession of one-year contracts so far, he wants to be able to earn a place on the grid on a longer-term basis this time around.

“I definitely prefer to be getting sorted and knowing what I’m doing for the next few years so I can be fully committed to the programme, to the project going ahead, with any team,” Zhou said.

“I know as a rookie coming into Formula 1, it’s not like maybe 10 years ago, a new driver come to Formula 1 and they always had a longer two, three years contract. Now, it’s like the team wants to see individual contracts, want to see you perform.

“I feel like having individual yearly contracts is tough for the mental side because you want to limit your mistakes, at the same time you want to show your passion of progression as a driver to the team.

“So that’s where the hard thing comes. Because summertime, September, you’re still not sure exactly [of] your contract, they can give you the one you can sign…that’s where those things become very tricky for the drivers.”

Read next: Carlos Sainz ‘can’t go’ to Red Bull with F1 2025 move that ‘makes sense’ revealed