While Zhou Guanyu hopes to extend his stay at Sauber beyond this season, he says long-term stability is unlikely with multiple driver contracts expiring at the end of 2024.
Currently racing as Alfa Romeo, the team will rebrand at the end of this season ahead of its transition into Audi’s F1 works team in 2026, and Zhou’s contract is set to expire after this year. The Chinese driver has delivered improved consistency and sits just one point behind teammate Valtteri Bottas in an uncompetitive 2023 car, and while he wants to sign a new deal he’s aware of how chaotic the driver market is likely to look in 12 months’ time.
“We are very open to all aspects for next year, and I myself will prefer staying here (Sauber),” Zhou told Titan Media. “Although it will not be Alfa next year, the team will become a factory team from 2026. So it is very important to me to be here to deliver better performance and fit better within the team. There may be many options during this period because I feel that there could be many shifts in the drivers market next year.”
On top of deals that expire this year, nine drivers are believed to be out of contract after 2024, including Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Despite the uncertainty, Zhou says he is less anxious about his future than he was a year ago, when as a rookie he needed to trigger an option on his contract to remain with Alfa Romeo.
“Last year I might have been more concerned about the seat,” he said. “Although there is nothing confirmed so far this year and I’ve signed nothing related to the future, step by step, everything is proceeding as planned.
“What I need to know more is how to find what I think is the best for myself and the best for my future development. In this regard, I am not as worried as last year, and I will not let myself be concerned too much.
“Of course, I hope to continue what I am doing now — I want to do my best in all aspects and maximize what I have got in all areas (with racing), and leave other things to my management team.”