Zhou Guanyu says discussions over his Formula 1 future for 2024 with Alfa Romeo are continuing to take place, adding he was “a lot more nervous” this time last year.
Zhou impressed enough during his rookie campaign in 2022 to eventually earn a second season alongside the experienced Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo this term.
However, the Italian marque has failed to replicate its competitive form from the beginning of this technical era early last year, only accumulating 10 points to languish ninth in the Constructors’ Championship.
But Zhou, whose contract expires at the end of this year, is determined to remain with the Sauber-owned team ahead of its transition into a works Audi entry from 2026.
Asked ahead of last month’s Dutch Grand Prix for an update on his future, Zhou said: “I mean it’s been going on, us talking together, before the summer shutdown and also we are still discussing together with the team.
“As I say, happy place to be, right now, and also knowing the team, moving forward in the future, heading off to a works team [Audi], so it’s good for us and for myself, I’m just trying to do the maximum I can here on the track and the rest is up to time, up to more further detailed discussion together – but I think, let’s say, this time last year I was a lot more nervous than I am now.
“So, hopefully I’m able to set everything down and have a good future ahead.”
Amid an increasingly tough year for Alfa Romeo, Zhou has largely been a match for Bottas, scoring only two fewer points than his 10-time F1 race-winning team-mate.
The Finn believes that Zhou has made a “big step” in every area in his sophomore year and believes the Chinese racer has proven he warrants his place on the current F1 grid.
“I think he’s made progress from last year,” Bottas said on Thursday at Monza. “He’s made a big step in performance but also confidence and technical knowledge and I think he really deserves a place in Formula 1. And he’s a nice guy as well. Really good guy to work with.”
Alfa Romeo had failed to score a single point in the five rounds before the Italian Grand Prix, but Bottas finally brought an end to its torrid run with a 10th-place finish at Monza.
“Points were the target today, and we achieved that: it’s nice to be back in the top 10 as it had been a while, despite all our hard work, and this point is for everyone at Alfa Romeo,” Bottas summarised.
“It may be just one point, but it is a good reward for the job done to turn our weekend around, and for the support of our home team from the grandstands. It’s been a clean race from our side: our pace had slightly improved from qualifying, and we nailed our strategy, which helped us have some clean air and keep out of trouble.
“Overall, it is safe to say it has been a good day in the office today, and a good way to wrap up the European season.”
However, Alfa Romeo remains ninth in the Constructors’ standings, one point behind Haas and a further 10 behind Williams, whose mid-season resurgence continued with Alex Albon coming home seventh.