Alfa Romeo have confirmed that Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas will drive for the team for the 2024 Formula 1 season, whilst hot-prospect Theo Pourchaire will become the reserve driver.
The 2024 season will mark the third season as teammates for the pair. Zhou became the first Chinese driver in F1 history when he joined in 2022, after finishing third in Formula 2.
Zhou had a solid rookie season against his veteran teammate, Valtteri Bottas, contributing six points to the team’s haul of 55, and put up a respectable qualifying head-to-head that Bottas won 14-8.
He followed it up in 2023 by closing their race head-to-head to 8-4 and their qualifying battle to 9-5. Bottas leads the second-season driver by two points, down from the 2022 difference of 41.
“Signing again with the team is always a great feeling, especially when we know how things are shaping up,” Zhou said in a press release. “I am proud to be part of Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake and grateful for their trust.
“I have been working extremely hard since day one and there is an incredible level of motivation to keep doing so every day forward. My relationship with Valtteri [Bottas] is really good, and we are working closely together and with the team to push everyone forward.
“I am also very excited about the opportunity to finally race with my team in China, in front of my home crowd. It will be a great moment and I’m proud to be able to share it with all those who have supported me.”
Despite proving to be a reliable and solid driver, Zhou’s seat has come under-threat with talks of Felipe Drugovich, Theo Pourchaire, Carlos Sainz and other drivers reportedly looking to join the team, which will rebrand as Audi from 2026.
“The decision to continue our journey with our driver line-up unchanged is testament to the investment we have made in our project,” Alessandro Alunni Bravi, a team representative, said. “Nothing in Formula One changes overnight, and we have taken a conscious decision to focus on stability and to keep building our team up together as we embark on an important period of transition.”
Zhou has made impressive steps forward in the last two years,” He continued. “And we expect him to continue on this trajectory in 2024. Now the baton is back to us – we have to give both drivers a good car and put them in the best conditions to perform.”
Pourchaire signs on as Alfa Romeo reserve
Formula 2’s champion-elect, Theo Pourchaire, is presenting a bit of a headache for the Alfa Romeo team.
He is regarded as one of the greatest young talents available at the moment, and they will look to keep him close to their garage in 2024 as he becomes their reserve driver.
After a highly-successful karting career, he has quickly risen through the junior open-wheel formula championships and debuted in his current series at the age of just 17.
He holds a 25-point lead going into the finale in Abu Dhabi and should win the title bar a disastrous weekend, and he hopes to deliver.
“Over the years, the team has become a family to me,” Pourchaire said in a press release. “Therefore, I am really happy and grateful to continue my journey with Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake and the Sauber Academy.
“The support I have received from everyone in the team has been outstanding, and I’m proud to be able to contribute to the growth of the whole operation.”
Should he win the title, he will no longer be allowed to compete in F2 by the rules of the championship and will need to take his skills somewhere else.
So by keeping him in the paddock, the team can continue developing his experience and show him that he’s a little bit closer to F1, to try to keep the rest of the paddock from snatching him away.
“I am happy that Théo will remain with the team for 2024 as one of our reserve drivers,” Alunni Bravi added. “He has done an incredible job this year, not just in F2, where we will all support him as he fights for the title in Abu Dhabi, but also behind the scenes, working with the team in Hinwil.”
Alfa Romeo to depart F1 at the end of 2023
As Audi prepares to take over from 2026, Alfa Romeo will depart Sauber as the team’s title sponsor.
The Italian car manufacturer had sponsored the Swiss F1 team since 2018 but will depart as they re-evaluate the opportunities they have, and the direction of their long-term strategies and marketing.
The car company had noted that 2021 was the first time the company turned a profit in many years, so the 112-year-old business is in a good place.
They’ve already been linked to elsewhere in F1, reported to be eyeing up a deal with Haas for 2024.