Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Interview: Why Alfa Romeo re-signs Zhou Guanyu

by F1 correspondent Michael Butterworth | Xinhua
16 Sep 2023, 19:44 GMT+10

SINGAPORE, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Alfa Romeo team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said his team is happy with the progress that driver Zhou Guanyu has made, but cautioned that the Chinese needs to keep improving next year.

It was announced earlier this week that Zhou had agreed a contract extension with Alfa for 2024, after having made his debut with the Swiss-based side in 2022 to become F1's first ever Chinese driver.

With Alfa Romeo struggling somewhat in 2023, Zhou has scored only four championship points this year, two fewer than his more experienced teammate Valtteri Bottas.

However, the Chinese has been generally closer to Bottas this year than he was in 2022, when he scored six points against 49 for the Finnish driver, and Alunni Bravi said he was happy with the improvement Zhou had shown in his F1 career to date.

"We have seen [Zhou] making progress from last season to this season, though [Alfa's] performance is not comparable," Alunni Bravi told Xinhua.

"But we know that he, as a driver, has developed his skill very well, and so we expect another step next year from him in terms of performance and consistency.

"We have been working so well with him that it was quite natural to continue.

"We have confidence on both sides, and now we want to see him do another step, as he has already this year, when he has been able to match Valtteri in terms of performance in qualifying.

"Now we want to see him scoring as many points as Valtteri, and to be really on top of his game."

For his part, Zhou said he was happy to continue with Alfa Romeo, and had always looked to remain with the Swiss-based squad rather than switch to another team.

"At the beginning of the year I was just focused on my driving and then halfway or before the summer break I was looking [at] what the options were," Zhou told media, including Xinhua.

"Of course, there were other options, but for me, the priority was to try to stay with the team.

"This year, maybe [talks] went a little bit longer than expected just because we wanted to make sure we maximised all the little details we have together in collaboration with Alfa.

"From my side, I was very keen. That was my priority.

"It's not like we have a lot of seats available and I feel like I was very happy being in that happy place with my engineer, people that I know already."

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