Zhou had other options, but: 'This was my priority'

F1 News

zhou press conference singapore
14 September at 11:46

It does not happen often: at the press conference ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, all eyes this time were on Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo's Chinese driver. Indeed, an hour before the drivers talked to the media, his Sauber team (as the Swiss squad will be called again from 2024) announced that his contract has been extended. So he will also drive a third year alongside Valtteri Bottas.

Just like a year ago, Alfa Romeo announced in Singapore that Zhou was getting a new commitment. Naturally, the Chinese reiterated being happy to stay longer in Formula 1, he also said he was extremely ambitious. As we know, Sauber will become Audi's factory team in 2026, so the team is in something of an interim phase. Nevertheless, Zhou wants his team to score as early as 2024.

Zhou believes in improvements Sauber car

"We're going to be taking part in the future development of next year's cars," Zhou said. "The team are already starting on that project, but knowing I am staying on at the team, I can definitely put a lot more effort into that and guiding the guys at the factory with Valtteri together to make sure that everything is heading in the right direction and to improve the weakness of the car. And keep all of the strong points. I really feel getting everything done here, we can really focus on just continuing to improve as a team, as a group of people. And from my side, just really happy to be able to set more into Formula 1. Of course, next year, we have the home race [in China]. I’ve been waiting for that for two years already."

For Zhou was clear early he wanted to stay put: "I think it was very clear after a lot of teams announced their drivers’ lineup. At the beginning of the year, I was just focused on my pure driving, and then halfway before summer, I was looking at the options. And of course, there are other options. But for me, the priority was trying to stay with the team. This year, maybe went a little bit longer than expected, just because we want to make sure we maximise all the little details we have together in the collaboration with Alfa. I was very keen. That was my priority option for what's coming. It's not like we have a lot of seats available. And I feel like I’m in a happy place with my engineer group. People that I know already," Zhou said.

The Chinese signed a one year contract: "It’s settled for next year, so in 2024 I'm secured. And after, the team is settling on another project. So everything will be decided after that year. So keeping the options open."