Sunday, June 23, 2024

Zhou Guanyu Hopeful of Confirming 2024 Future Before end of Summer Break Amid Ongoing Sauber Talks

Zhou Guanyu hopes to have his 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship plans sorted out before the end of the summer break, with the Chinese driver aiming to stay with the Sauber F1 Team.

The current partnership between Alfa Romeo and Sauber concludes at the end of the 2023 season, and at present, neither Valtteri Bottas nor Zhou are confirmed to remain with the team beyond the current campaign.

Despite the 2023 Alfa Romeo car not being particularly strong so far this season, Zhou has shown himself to be more than a match for his more experienced team-mate Bottas, and the Chinese driver showcased his talent superbly during the Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying session by placing his car a remarkable fifth on the grid.

The first Chinese driver to start a race in Formula 1 is aiming to maintain his position on the grid, but he knows there is pressure from outside, particularly with Sauber Junior Team driver and current FIA Formula 2 championship leader Théo Pourchaire watching over his shoulder.

“I want to have a clear picture before the summer ends, that’s for sure, and we have to see what to do to make everything happen on paper,” Zhou is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “My manager is discussing with the team, so we have to see.

“This time last year I was more worried than right now because I feel like the team is quite happy with the job we were able to do. I’m just continuing to work as I did.

“I think things will come but it takes a bit of time to figure out. I feel reasonably happy with the scenario and also with the people I’ve been working for, so obviously very happy to continue for the future.

“My priority is trying to stay here. After two years I really feel I’m settled well within the team.”

Zhou says that targeting Bottas and matching the pace of the ten-time race winner in 2023 was a target given to him both by his team and by himself ahead of the current campaign as he knew it would be important if he was to stay with the team for a third consecutive season.

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” he said when asked about who set the targets for this season.  “I want myself to be equal in terms of pace and then also the team expects me to do another step up compared to last year.

“On the other side, there are some weaknesses I wanted to improve on from last year, which I think we’ve been making a step forward on. Apart from the points the rest has been a lot stronger.

“From the first qualifying of the year we were able to achieve very similar in terms of performance and one-lap pace.  The race obviously is a little bit depending on the package, sometimes luck, the strategy, but in general I think my target at the beginning of the year I was able to start already together with my benchmark, which is Valtteri.

“I achieved that and it seems to be keeping people happy in the factory so I’m less worried for the future.”

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