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Today we got confirmation about the 2024 Sauber lineup, as Zhou Guanyu will stay at the team as Valtteri Bottas’ teammate for the third consecutive season.
Eight teams so far have announced they will not change their driver pairings, barring any surprises at Red Bull, with just Alpha Tauri and Williams yet to finalise theirs. Alexander Albon is the only driver announced at those teams and Logan Sargeant’s future is not concrete yet. Alpha Tauri are also left to decide between Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alfa Romeo, as the Sauber squad has been named since 2018, is currently ninth in the 2023 constructors’ standings, just a point behind Haas in eighth, and now has its 2024 plans set in stone.
Zhou’s future confirmed
Of course the significant news announced today concern Zhou Guanyu, who now has nothing to worry about regarding his contract status. The first Chinese driver in Formula 1 joined the team in 2022 and he is now on the back end of the second season in his Formula 1 career, which has yielded ten points so far, with a best race finish of eighth -achieved last year in Canada.
His highlight this season has been an excellent qualifying performance in Hungary, which saw him start fifth. Of course, it all came to nought on race day, when he had a terrible start and crashed into Daniel Ricciardo, which set off a chain reaction that eliminated both Alpine drivers from the Grand Prix.
As a result, next year Zhou will have the prime opportunity to race for the first time in his Formula 1 career in front of his fans, on home soil. The Chinese Grand Prix returns next season after a four-year absence which was instigated by the outbreak of the global pandemic in early 2020.
There has been no official word regarding the length of the contract, but paddock rumours suggest that this is a two-year deal. The second year is not guaranteed though, as there is an option that needs to be picked up.
No.24 is here to stay for 2024. 🤝
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake (@alfaromeostake) September 14, 2023
Bottas also remains at the team
It was no surprise to also see confirmation about Valtteri Bottas remaining at the Swiss team. After four seasons at Williams and another five at Mercedes, the experienced Finn joined Alfa Romeo in 2022, as he returned to the midfield after running at the front and achieving ten Grand Prix victories with the German manufacturer.
He signed a multi-year contract with Sauber, which of course will of course change name next season, as the Alfa Romeo deal expires. Bottas’ exact contract length is not public knowledge, so whether the 2024 season is the last one in the deal remains to be seen.
No F1 seat, but Pourchaire stays at Sauber
The biggest contender to take Zhou’s seat at the team was none other than Theo Pourchaire. The Frenchman has been part of the Sauber academy since 2019 and he is currently taking part in his third full-time effort in Formula 2. He was runner-up in the championship last season, behind Felipe Drugovich. He is currently leading the standings with a healthy margin and two races to spare.
The 20-year-old had already announced that this was to be his last Formula 2 season, so whether he races anywhere next season has not been decided yet. What is official though is that he will remain at Sauber, as its reserve, test and simulator driver for 2024.
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