Zhou favourite for second 2022 Alfa Romeo F1 seat

Formula 2 race-winner Guanyu Zhou has emerged as the favourite for Alfa Romeo's second Formula 1 seat next year, but team boss Fred Vasseur insists no decision has been taken.

Zhou favourite for second 2022 Alfa Romeo F1 seat

Zhou’s pace in F2 this season, allied to some healthy backing from Chinese sponsors, has left the 22-year-old Alpine Academy driver as the most likely candidate to step up and race alongside new Alfa signing Valtteri Bottas in 2022.

Sources have suggested that a deal is all but agreed, and now just needs to be signed off.

However, Vasseur insists that Alfa Romeo remains open minded about what it does for next year and wants a wait a while longer to see how the F2 campaign develops.

As well as Zhou being on its radar, Vasseur also wants to check on the progress of Sauber academy driver Theo Pourchaire.

Furthermore, current Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi is hoping to earn a fresh contract with some strong performances, having impressed in qualifying with Q3 appearances in the last two Grands Prix at Zandvoort and Monza. 

PLUS: Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

Asked directly if Zhou was on Alfa Romeo’s shortlist, Vasseur said: “Zhou is doing a good job in F2. For sure he is on the list.

“But it's not only due to the fact that he is Chinese, that he is a frontrunner in F2. He won some races and I think every single team in F1 is looking after him.

“But we have the first four events [of F2, that] went a bit different. Now they are coming back to more standard tracks.

“The young guys in F2, they have more experience and then we will see in two or three events where we are and what is the evolution of every single driver in F2.”

Podium: Race winner Oscar Piastri, Prema Racing, second place Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi, third place Dan Ticktum, Carlin

Podium: Race winner Oscar Piastri, Prema Racing, second place Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi, third place Dan Ticktum, Carlin

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Zhou currently lies second in the F2 standings, having seen Oscar Piastri extend his points lead after his feature race victory at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Vasseur reckons that Alfa Romeo will wait until after the Sochi F2 round on 25-26 September before making a call on its 2022 lineup.

While F2 rookie Pourchaire has shown well this season, Vasseur has suggested that his lack of experience in F1 machinery, having only completed one test in an old car at the Hungaroring last month, could be a factor working against him.

“We have to let to Theo the time to improve, and to build up not only the pace, because that he has the speed, but all the education around this,” said Vasseur.

“He was 17 two months ago.

“F1 is very complicated. We have a very limited number of test days.

“Next year we have a new car and we could have reliability issues. It means that we could arrive to Bahrain with a very low mileage and we have to consider this also.

“For the drivers it's never easy, it's a challenge, but we have to give them time for sure.”

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