Zhou Guanyu on his future: “This time last year I was more worried than where I am right now”

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Photo credits: Alfa Romeo F1 Team

Having qualified P5, Zhou Guanyu’s Hungarian Grand Prix did not go the way that the Chinese racer (and all those who follow Alfa Romeo) had expected. An unfortunate issue with the brake system strategy during the starting procedure as the lights went out compromised what looked to be a promising opportunity. Despite not being able to capitalise on such a strong starting position, the Chinese driver is still confident of retaining his place on the F1 grid in 2024 having told media ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix that he was ‘more worried’ last year.


There have been many moments throughout the 2023 F1 season, where Zhou Guanyu has shown that he can match the pace of his more experienced teammate (and 10-time F1 grand prix winner) Valtteri Bottas. In motorsport, your first benchmark is always your teammate and in that respect Zhou Guanyu has scored 4 points so far this season to the 5 secured by Bottas. There was every expectation before the lights went out in Hungary that Zhou Guanyu would leapfrog his teammate – but that was short lived after the poor getaway off the line which saw the Chinese racer swallowed up in the pack.


However, Zhou Guanyu is a man who looks forward having stated on media day at Spa: “That is now behind us, and we have used the few days between the two races to properly go through what happened.”

It certainly is only a few days with the Belgian Grand Prix – a sprint weekend at that – fast approaching. Inevitably, as the summer break also approaches, conversation unsurprisinhly turns to the following year and Zhou Guanyu explained to media in Belgium why he is optimistic that he will still be on the F1 grid beyond this year.


“I mean obviously already started to talk a little bit with the team that’s for sure you know this time of the year is the right time to talk for it but at the moment let’s say this time last year I was more worried than where I am right now because I feel like you know the team is quite happy with the lineup and with the job we were [sic] able to do.

”I’m just continuing to do work as I did and I think things will come but it takes a bit of time to figure out a bit more but yeah I feel reasonably happy with the scenario…so yeah obviously very happy to continue for the future,”

Zhou Guanyu’s P5 qualifying effort in Hungary was his best performance in the pinnacle of motorsport so far. But the outcome of the first lap – contact with F1 returnee Daniel Ricciardo – is a stark reminder that things can change fast. Also, having shown that he can match Bottas for pace, as the expectation inevitably increases surely the pressure must also.


“I want myself to be equally together in terms of the pace and now also I think the team expects me to do a step up in terms of last year. And on the other side, you know there’s some weakness I want to improve from last year which I think we’ve been making a step forward and then yeah obviously apart from the points but the rest is being a lot stronger,” stated Zhou Guanyu.


The popular Chinese racer also told journalists ‘I feel like I’m picking up every year’ but another driver keen to impress is Alfa Romeo test driver Théo Pourchaire. The question was put to Zhou Guanyu as to whether the fact that Pourchaire is not leading the F2 championship takes the pressure off him.


“For me, it’s like, I don’t care about what other people are doing in their championship. What I need to do is you know, be improving and making a big step and then there will be no worry about other young drivers. Because if obviously I do a lot of mistakes then I feel like I don’t deserve to be [in F1] and it’s right that they have the chances to get the seat – but if I’m doing everything right there’s no reason to be worried about it,” explained Zhou Guanyu.


Confidence is key but Alfa Romeo’s Chinese driver did indicate that he’ll ‘want to have a clear picture’ about his future before the summer ends. He also explained that his manager is open to other interest from teams as he looks for ‘the best contract and the best future’ but Zhou Guanyu also stated that Alfa Romeo is his priority as is to perform in a way which shows he belongs on an F1 grid.

However, Zhou Guanyu was quick to say how ‘after two years I do want a little bit longer contract’ which shows that longevity is potentially a determining factor to any decision.


Alfa Romeo obviously know the market that Zhou Guanyu in their ranks can bring their way. The team’s recent press release had him quoted saying: “Still, there are still many opportunities for us to kick back and put ourselves back where we belong, starting from this race.”

Positivity and a subtle reference to this weekend’s version of the title sponsor’s name can lead one to the conclusion that Zhou Guanyu sounds very relaxed indeed. Should points be secured in Belgium, the decision on Zhou Guanyu’s future may not be far behind.